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Researchers Capture the Sound of Sunrise on Mars

November 12, 2018
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Researchers Capture the Sound of Sunrise on Mars

NASA’s Opportunity rover captured the 5,000th sunrise on Mars. To celebrate that, scientists have reproduced it in sound.

Researchers from Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Exeter in the UK used data sonification techniques to create a two-minute piece of music.

For this achievement, they scanned a picture from left to right, pixel by pixel. Therefore, they inspected the brightness and color information and combined them with terrain elevation. They then used algorithms to assign each element a specific pitch and melody.

The result is a surprisingly pleasing piece of music. You can listen to it yourself below:

So, the quiet, slow harmonies are a consequence of the dark background. While the sonification of the bright solar disk created the brighter, higher pitched sounds.

Researchers use the image sonification technique in many fields to get a different perspective.

Dr. Vicinanza, Director of the Sound and Game Engineering (SAGE) research group at Anglia Ruskin, called it a “really flexible technique”.

He said image sonification can be used to study planet surfaces and atmospheres, analyze weather changes or detect volcanic eruptions.

“In health science, it can provide scientists with new methods to analyze the occurrence of certain shapes and colors, which is particularly useful in image diagnostics,” he said.

Scientists will present the world premiere of the piece at the SC18 supercomputing conference in Dallas on Nov. 13. They call this piece, Mars Soundscapes.

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Thumbnail image: Sunrise on Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Texas A&M University

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