A cosmic collection of sounds from space exploration is now available in the public domain. NASA has launched a sound library starting with over 60 samples of mission control, rockets firing, Sputnik beeping along in orbit, and the eerie harmonies of the universe.
The project hosted on SoundCloud is perhaps not coincidentally timed with the audio platform’s Twitter integration, as most of the NASA sounds are less than a minute long and seem suited for sharing. To clarify, not all the samples are recorded sounds. While there is Neil Armstrong with his “one small step for [a] man” proclamation and audio from the Mercury missions like the “Godspeed, John Glenn” sendoff — the sounds of humans in space rather than the sounds of space — there are also transmissions from the Voyager space probes from the planets.
These fluctuations of electromagnetic radiation are also included, transformed into audio, and Voyager is still out there capturing the vibration of plasma beyond our solar system. From the radio waves in the Earth’s atmosphere to light curve waves of a star, there are some fascinating examples of the translation of data into sound. No Voyager Golden Record tunes are included yet, although there’s a snippet of the bombastic “Water on the Moon” written and performed by LCROSS Deputy Project Manager John Marmie with Jeff Petro. You can find the entire 80s-tinged pop song on YouTube: “I wanna go faster, faster / Hands in the air, we’re gonna crash. / Searchin’ for the answers, / Like Galileo through his looking glass.”
But the sounds are more than just a novelty. Telescopes are often used to turn radio waves into audio, and a whole field of radio astronomy is directed at these radio frequencies. The accessibility on SoundCloud might encourage some interesting artistic remixing, perhaps a follow-up to The Space Project released earlier this year that had bands like the Antlers, Spiritualized, and Beach House integrating space sounds into their music, the haunting captures of the movement of the universe contrasted against the human-made tones.
Below are some of the “solar system and beyond” audio samples from the NASA space sound library:
Listen to more audio from the NASA space sound library on SoundCloud.