Mars sunrise captured by Opportunity rover turned into music by scientists

Soundtrack produced using photo of 5,000th Martian sunrise taken by Nasa rover

Josh Gabbatiss
Science Correspondent
Saturday 10 November 2018 15:47
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Mars sunrise turned into music by scientists

Scientists have created a piece of music from the 5,000th Martian sunrise photographed by Nasa’s Opportunity rover.

A technique known as “data sonification” was used to reinterpret the image into a two-minute soundtrack to be played while viewing the image.

The photo was scanned from left to right and each element of brightness and colour information was converted into a specific pitch and melody.

Their resulting piece, dubbed The Mars Soundscapes, is set to be played at the Supercomputing SC18 Conference in Dallas next week.

Besides the sounds, the audience will be exposed to vibrational transducers that will allow them to feel vibrations in their hands as they listen.

“Image sonification is a really flexible technique to explore science and it can be used in several domains, from studying certain characteristics of planet surfaces and atmospheres, to analysing weather changes or detecting volcanic eruptions,” said Dr Domenico Vicinanza of Anglia Ruskin University.

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

Opportunity has been capturing images on the surface of the red planet since 2004. The rover was only ever meant to last 90 days on Mars, but it has now been there for 14 years.

Earlier this year, Nasa lost communications with it when a massive dust storm struck, but the team hope to re-establish contact once conditions are more stable and it has had a chance to recharge its batteries.

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