Rosetta’s comet is singing, and it sounds like the sci-fi movie alien Predator. The Rosetta spacelab and the little Philae lander are attempting to show astronomers what Comet 67P is made up of, what it looks like and even what it smells like. However, what it sounds like was not something they expected. 24 hours before Philae ended up making history by sitting itself down on the comet’s surface, the European Space Agency (ESA) released an audio clip of 67P singing.
Of course, sound waves are not able to move through space, so the sound bite is not a direct tape recording. What it actually is, instead, is an audio of Rosetta’s Plasma Consortium being picked up from the discrepancies in the magnetic field about the comet. It is due to exchanges between 67P’s coma and plasma from the Sun, which is better known as solar winds.
Such variations stemmed in frequencies between 40 and 50 millihertz, around 10,000 times lower than are detected by human beings. ESA researchers changed the comet’s song frequency into hearing range of humans, and found it was a series of clicks that sounded very close to the growl of Predator. A video that contains each sound is below for the reader to listen to if he or she chooses.
Astronomers first clued in on the comet sound in August when Rosetta neared the comet, but they are not sure as to what is causing it. They have started in a press release to several different news media sources that the noise is very exciting because it was a complete surprise and they never expected it. They are working hard to figure out what is the physics behind the singing.
It was on Nov. 11, 2014, that the ESA announced to the public that the Rosetta spaceship that was carrying the Philae had taped a “song” coming from the comet. They were able to detect the sound, even though it was unable to be heard by human ears. It was outside the range of human hearing so the scientists had to edit it so humans were able to listen to it.
The ESA explained that Rosetta’s gadgets first picked up the strange singing sound when the probe first came within about 60 miles of the comet. The hum was recorded again during recent movements when Rosetta had to move in the proper position to discharge Philae so it could move to land on the comet.
The comet song, which was caught by Rosetta, was thought to be produced by fluctuations in the magnetic ground in the environment of the comet. It took ESA scientists having to boost the song of the comet by a factor of 10,000 frequencies to make it be audible to human beings. The ESA research group believes that one theory for the singing could be that neutral particles that are coming from the comet could be starting to becoming charged, by solar winds. As of the present time, the reason behind such a task is not known.
By Kimberly Ruble
Photo by The European Space Agency – Flickr License