Scientists capture the sound of sunrise on Mars

November 9, 2018, Anglia Ruskin University
An image of the 5,000th sunrise captured by the Mars rover, Opportunity. Credit: Anglia Ruskin University

Scientists have created the soundtrack of the 5,000th Mars sunrise captured by the robotic exploration rover, Opportunity, using data sonification techniques to create a two-minute piece of music.

Researchers created the piece of music by scanning a picture from left to right, pixel by pixel, and looking at brightness and colour information and combining them with terrain elevation. They used algorithms to assign each element a specific pitch and melody.

The quiet, slow harmonies are a consequence of the dark background and the brighter, higher pitched sounds towards the middle of the piece are created by the sonification of the bright sun disk.

Dr. Domenico Vicinanza, of Anglia Ruskin University, and Dr. Genevieve Williams, of the University of Exeter, will present the world premiere of the piece, entitled Mars Soundscapes in the NASA booth at the forthcoming Supercomputing SC18 Conference in Dallas (13 November).

The piece will be presented using both conventional speakers and vibrational transducers so the audience could feel the vibrations with their hands, thus enjoying a first-person experience of a sunrise on Mars.

Opportunity is a robotic rover that has been providing photographic data on Mars for NASA since 2004. Earlier this year, it ceased communications following a dust storm. Scientists hope that it may resume its function later this year.

A piece of music composed using data sonification techniques, based on a photograph of the 5,000th sunrise captured by the Mars rover, Opportunity. Credit: Dr Domenico Vicinanza and Dr Genevieve Williams

Dr. Vicinanza, Director of the Sound and Game Engineering (SAGE) research group at Anglia Ruskin, said: "We are absolutely thrilled about presenting this work about such a fascinating planet.

"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.

"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."

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9 comments

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Surveillance_Egg_Unit
1.8 / 5 (16) Nov 09, 2018
What a waste. Curiosity's resources could/should have been put to better use than this stoker of anthropocentric neuronic stimulations.
Phyllis Harmonic
4.8 / 5 (17) Nov 09, 2018
What a waste. Curiosity's resources could/should have been put to better use than this

The only resource was an image taken for other purposes. Converting the image to sound takes about 10 seconds using Metasynth. Maybe you shouldn't waste your time posting ridiculous comments about things you have no clue about.
Spacebaby2001
5 / 5 (11) Nov 09, 2018
A cheap and, easy publicity stunt using already collected data, in an attempt to generate more public interest in science is hardly a waste.

We had architecture undergraduates doing similar exhibits with simple webcams, arduinos, electric motors, paper, and a bit of creativity. Where they revolutionizing the field of architecture or setting off a revolution in urban design? No, however they were often the most visited instillation by the public who couldn't care less about someones inspired technical drawing, or elegant building section.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.3 / 5 (3) Nov 09, 2018
?? Did it happen to sound like this?
https://www.youtu...7cQCC4sU
691Boat
4.9 / 5 (10) Nov 09, 2018
What a waste. Curiosity's resources could/should have been put to better use than this stoker of anthropocentric neuronic stimulations.

The only Curiosity resources used in this was a picture, likely open access and available to anybody with Google.
'Dr. Domenico Vicinanza, of Anglia Ruskin University, and Dr. Genevieve Williams, of the University of Exeter" did the work. In case you didn't know, those universities are not NASA.

691Boat
5 / 5 (8) Nov 09, 2018
@Phyllis & Spacebaby:
forgot to refresh my browser and didn't see your responses before posting mine. Oh well. Glad some people understand what is going on besides just me! haha
arcmetal
4.9 / 5 (10) Nov 09, 2018
What a waste. Curiosity's resources could/should have been put to better use than this stoker of anthropocentric neuronic stimulations.

This comment proves that we all need to do a better job of explaining science to the lay people, even to those with ADHD.
KBK
3 / 5 (2) Nov 09, 2018
Besides it's all about being anthropocentric.

There is no other fucking point. Not in this life or the next.

To add, it's music, a thing both reflexive and reflective.

It's humanity in the moment of use of the developed tool to be philosophical. Science returns to it's roots, philosophy. Ultimately science is about the beauty. Not the math or the tool, or the formula. It's final point is the enrichment of human joy in life and the observation of beauty in life.

So... a bit of music from a martian sunrise: It's really difficult to do -or be- humanly better than this.
MrBojangles
3.9 / 5 (7) Nov 12, 2018
anthropocentric neuronic stimulations.


Speaking of waste, how much time did you spend trying to string those words together?
You either don't understand what anthropocentric means, or you're being willfully ignorant as always.

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