Sounds from outer space

The North Pole of Venus. Credit: SSV, MIPL, Magellan Team, NASA

Humans would sound like bass Smurfs if they travelled to Venus.

Venus’ dense atmosphere would cause the vocal chords to vibrate more slowly, giving you a deep bass voice. But the speed of sound is much faster than on Earth, which would trick our brains into thinking the speaker is much smaller.

We don’t have any recorded sounds from other planets, despite years of space exploration. But a team of scientists from The University of Southampton in the UK have been creating the sounds of other worlds using physics and mathematics.

They have modelled the effects of different atmospheres, pressures and temperatures on the human voice for Venus, Mars and Titan (Saturn’s largest moon). They have also created the sounds of lightning on Venus, whirlwinds on Mars and a methane/ethane ‘waterfall’ on Titan.

Listen to an audio simulation of a methane/ethane fall on Titan.

“We are confident of our calculations; we have been rigorous in our use of physics taking into account atmospheres, pressure and fluid dynamics,” lead researcher Professor Leighton said. “This is the real deal ““ it’s as close as we can get to the real sound of another world until a future probe or astronaut actually goes there and listens to what it really sounds like.”

He is also trying to work out what music would sound like on another planet. “If astronauts are based on Mars for several months, they might just take musical instruments along, or build one there.”

The out-of-this-world sounds can be heard in the UK this Easter, at the Astrium Planetarium at INTECH near Winchester.

Source: The University of Southampton

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