NASA spacecraft recorded odd sounds from Saturn as it dive-bombed planet

James Marshall
July 12, 2018

"Here we present evidence of communication between Saturn's ionosphere and Enceladus during (Cassini's) Grand Finale orbits, revealing the vast spatial extent of their coupling via plasma waves", the scientists write.

Ali Sulaiman, planetary scientist at the University of Iowa and a member of the RPWS team, added that Enceladus was a "little generator going around Saturn", which was a continuous source of energy, Popular Mechanics reported.

It detected a series of plasma waves heading from Saturn to its rings and into Enceladus, one of its moons.

The observations show for the first time that the waves travel on magnetic field lines connecting Saturn directly to Enceladus.

Researchers studying the Cassini data converted the recordings of plasma waves into an audio file that humans can hear in a process similar to the way radios translate electromagnetic waves into music that can be heard, reports NASA.

"In other words, Cassini detected electromagnetic waves in the audio frequency range - and on the ground, we can amplify and play those signals through a speaker", they explained.

Plasma is called "the fourth state of matter" and it is not the gas, liquid or solid.

The interaction between Enceladus and Saturn differs markedly from the relationship that Earth shares with its moon, with one of Saturn's rings created from a geyser found on Enceladus, showing that ours is a much more mundane relationship. The recording you can hear below captures 16 minutes of these waves, compressed to 28.5 seconds.

Sulaiman is lead author of a pair of papers describing the findings, published recently in Geophysical Research Letters.

In the course he had discovered a previously unknown interaction between Saturn and its satellite Enceladus. Enceladus is also geologically active, and plumes of water vapor it erupts become ionized and fill the environment around Saturn.

An instrument on Cassini recorded resulting plasma waves-oscillations in the particles and fields between the two bodies.

They have taken these interactions, which were captured by the Cassini spacecraft during its two-decade long visit to the planet and its moons, and released them to the public on YouTube in a format that allows everyone to listen.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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