Hear the ‘Sound’ of a Spacecraft Flying Past Venus

Hear the ‘Sound’ of a Spacecraft Flying Past Venus

Two spacecraft zipped past Venus at nearly time this week, and we’re steadily getting more data from this rare double flyby. The research teams have even translated some of this data into sounds, which you can hear below.

BepiColombo is a joint mission to Mercury by the Japanese space agency JAXA and the European Space Agency, and the Solar Orbiter is a joint mission between the ESA and NASA. Neither mission is focused on Venus; both spacecraft needed the planet for gravity assists to get them on the correct trajectories for their ultimate destinations. But the teams weren’t going to pass up the opportunity to observe Venus from close range, as detailed in a recent ESA blog post.

BepiColombo’s first image of Venus came to Earth a few days ago. The Italian Spring Accelerometer (ISA) aboard the spacecraft recorded the craft’s acceleration as it Venus whipped it around. The research team working on that instrument has since translated the acceleration data into audible frequencies, so we can actually hear BepiColombo’s transit of Venus, in a sense. Check it out:

The audio sounds a bit like reverberations through a hollow pipe. A couple clanks here and there can be attributed to the way Venus’s gravity affected the spacecraft, according to the ESA release, and the way that BepiColombo reacted to temperature increases as it passed the planet. (The temperature increased by some 110 degrees Celsius, from -100 degrees to a balmy 10 degrees).

The teams were also able to translate into sound the fluctuations in Venus’s magnetic field, using the magnetometers aboard both spacecraft. In the audio below, one can hear how the solar wind interacts with the planet.

That data sounds a bit more… staticky? The frequency changes as BepiColombo passed into the place where Venus’s magnetosphere and the solar wind meet (0:18 in the video). The ESA said that a more detailed analysis of the data collected by both spacecraft will take place over the next several weeks.

The Solar Orbiter caught a dramatic view of the planet’s glare, as you can see here:

The Solar Orbiter will continue to make routine swings past Venus as it bounces between the planet and the Sun, collecting data on our star’s activity over the course of the 11-year solar cycle. The orbiter will fly by Earth on November 27, the last time it will pass our pale blue dot.