The delicate sounds echo like a mixture of birdsong and deep-sea creatures. But they are neither. The ghostly notes come from our own Mother Earth.
A NASA spacecraft has sent back the first-ever recordings of Mother Earth singing to the universe, and the sound is awe-inspiring. It’s called “chorus,” an “electromagnetic phenomenon caused by plasma waves in Earth’s radiation belts,” as NASA described it in a release. Although the music is known to ham-radio operators, who have listened to it from far away, this is the first time they’ve been recorded at the source, NASA said.
The signals were picked up by NASA’s twin Radiation Belt Storm Probes as they studied the radiation belts, which are regions of energized particles, mostly protons and electrons, that are trapped in Earth’s magnetosphere, about 4,000 miles from the planet’s surface, according to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
The song is not generated by acoustic waves, NASA explained in a release. The probes’ receivers, which are configured specifically to study these belts, took the radio waves and translated them into 16-bit auditory sounds, just as on a CD. Indeed, the agency intends to prevent Mother Earth from being a one-hit wonder and record more of her music—in stereo next time.
If you want to learn about the science behind the sound, watch the video below.