This mind-bending music was created using Voyager spacecraft data

Illustration for article titled This mind-bending music was created using Voyager spacecraft data

An Italian scientist has taken 37 years worth of data from both Voyager space probes and turned it into music. The result is surprisingly good.

The composer, Domenico Vicinanza, is a project manager at Géant — Europe's high-speed data network that powers Cern and the Large Hadron Collider. He used 320,000 individual measurements of cosmic particle data taken at one-hour intervals using the spacecrafts' cosmic ray detector.


To make this data sound musical, Vicinanza mapped different frequencies, or detections, to different frequencies of a note. And to distinguish between the two spacecraft, he created a kind of duelling duet by giving each probe its own arrangement and sound texture.

"I wanted to compose a musical piece celebrating the Voyager 1 and 2 together, so used the same measurements (proton counts from the cosmic ray detector over the last 37 years) from both spacecrafts, at the exactly same point of time, but at several billions of kilometres of distance one from the other," said Vicinanza in a Guardian article.

I love stuff like this, including John Cramer's auditory interpretation of the first 760,000 years of the universe. While there's a certain novelty to doing this, it's also a way of presenting data a bit differently — in this case, data auditorialization. Listening to Vicinanza's piece, you can "hear" the journey made by the spacecrafts as they traveled through different regions of the solar system.


As an aside, and in the name of unabashed self-promotion, I put out an album called Voyager 2 back in the 1990s to chronicle its journey through the solar system (yes, I used to compose and perform electronic music). You can download it for free here.

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Ignatius Reilly

That was beautiful. Anybody have some music recommendations along these lines? I mean...something that sounds like this...doesn't have to be based on spacecraft signals...