Cosmic Whale Music: Listen To What Cassini Picked Up Near Saturn


Credit: NASA

NASA has released an extraordinary tape of the sound picked up by the Cassini spacecraft as it plunged into Saturn on its final mission in 2017.  The craft captured plasma waves from Saturn to its rings and into one of its moons, Enceladus. It is mesmerizing. It has been describing as Saturn singing and it is strangely beautiful.


The sound is the result of plasma waves moving through magnetic field lines on the way to Enceladus.

NASA took the waves and converted them into an audio file the way that radio converts electromagnetic waves into music. It then reduced the 16 minutes to 28.5 seconds.  The result is a cosmic hit.


29 thoughts on “Cosmic Whale Music: Listen To What Cassini Picked Up Near Saturn”

  1. It all comes down to how you modulate a stream of data into sound. The modulation schema you use defines the sound you get more than the data do. I used to cringe when (back in the early ’80s) I’d mistake one of the audio cassettes i stored programs for my personal computer on for a music tape, and play it in my stereo.

  2. Better are the sounds of the male bowhead whale. Also seems improvised.

    1. Mr Kurtz – HP Lovecraft is the only writer I read with ALL the lights on. 🙂

  3. How about cosmic asininity, as in Trump lying and insulting our NATO allies this morning to throw red meat to the doofuses who voted for him? That’s a more relevant and current topic than space noise. He accused other countries of not paying their fair share for defense spending, and he did this in his usual “in-your-face” public confrontational style. Trouble, is, as usual, Dipstick doesn’t understand what he’s talking about. Other NATO countries have until 2024, per an agreement brokered by President Obama, to spend 2% of their gross domestic product on their OWN military. This is not money owed to anyone, including NATO. Not all of them have reached this spending point, but they aren’t required to until 2024. These countries don’t owe NATO or anyone else money, as Dipstick implied, and the US isn’t getting cheated because other countries aren’t spending the full 2% on their own military right now. There is another assessment due to support NATO itself, and they are current on this obligation. Another day, another Trump lie, insult and creation of unnecessary problems just so the fat, misogynist with a yuge ego can show off.

      1. Trump, making the usual ass of himself, getting his facts wrong, insulting our allies, and hurting the U.S.’s relations with our allies is the big story today. Of course, Jon doesn’t report on this, but does a fluff piece on space noise.

        BTW: by a bipartisan vote of 97 to 3, the Senate passed a resolution yesterday, affirming the U.S’s support for NATO. Did the Trump News Network, a/k/a/ Fox report this? It’s sad when Congress has to pass resolutions to compensate for the POTUS’s ignorance and faux paus.

  4. Humans and many animals have an extraordinary ability to collate data and recognize patterns. Modulating information into sound harnesses that ability.

    1. How you modulate data into sound actually depends more on the way you wish the data to be interpreted than on the natural processes the data represent. This was a publicity stunt and I really hope no JPL funds were spent on it.

  5. Brings back memories of a Grateful Dead “Dark Star” jam

    The Dead showed up with a proto type of the Wall of Sound in a baseball stadium. There were 3 cranes holding it up. You could see the speaker towers from the parking lot. There were fireworks, a flame thrower & a thunder storm. The guys doing the light show didn’t do anything when the thunder storm rolled in. The stadium & ground was shaking from subsonic bass waves coming form Phil. Tickets cost only $5 for this.

    1. Jerry – ah the good ole days when you could lose your hearing for only $5. Now it cost you at least $50 to lose your hearing. 😉

  6. The right to arm bears is protected under the Second Amendment. The Framers were just dyslectic when they put the Amendment out. Wales have a First Amendment right to sing.

    1. Liberty2nd – the Welsh are incredible singers, their voices are heard in several British movies.

    1. Jay S – Forbidden Planet, yes, Leslie Nielsen before we knew he was funny. 🙂 And Robby the Robot.

      Which reminds me of the prosecutors in the OJ trial of accusing OJ of being an actor. Had they seen him act? The best acting he did was jumping over a suitcase in a commercial. He was a terrible actor. All they had to do was show scenes from his movies and that would be enough to acquit him.

  7. I always find it hard to get too excited about this kind of thing especially when they manipulate it so much. First we reduce the frequency, then we compress the crap out of it, then we put it through the voice synthesizer, then play it backwards at ten second increments and whoa-la, it sounds just like “Smoke On The Water.

    1. Jim22 – they took all the tonality out of it. That is what happens when you let scientists play with music. 😉

    1. Nick – Phil could put a Wall of Sound behind to make it actually sound like something. I am thinking JT needs his ears checked. 😉

  8. Most things in Nature have some rythmic balance even the seemingly chaotic ‘space noise’ used to produce randomn codes. Bound to be some that with tweaking will produce these effects but as was said I would like to hear the higher notes left in.

    Having listened to the whales passing by while diving in Tonga though it is a remarkably almost exactly similar sound minus the occasional message passing of the whales. Shades of Star Trek The Movies!

  9. I would have thought they were the brainwaves of the Dumunists when they heard President Trump was going to pick another Judge or better yet when he won the election.

Comments are closed.