Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Scientists hear the song of planet Earth!

By Marshall Connolly
October 3rd, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Did you know the planet Earth has a song that can be heard in space? A NASA spacecraft has managed to record the song and beam it back to Earth. Despite the celestial origin of the sound, when made audible many it sounds like the calls of birds in the jungle or whales navigating the deep. 

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Earth produces sound, although sounds can't be heard in space. Sound does not travel in space because it is a relative vacuum, but charged particles still exist, flowing in plasma waves around the planet. These waves create the effect scientists call, "chorus."

To hear the waves, a radio antenna is required. 

Those antennas are installed on a pair of satellites that are circling the Earth, studying the planet's radiation belts known as the Van Allen Belts. The Van Allen Belts are bands of powerful radiation that wrap around part of the Earth. The radiation is so great in these belts that they produce what scientists call, "killer electrons." These supercharged particles are dangerous and astronauts must avoid them at risk of becoming sick and dying. 

The Radiation Belt Storm Probes, as they are called, are orbiting through the belts to see if they can determine how these electrons are produced. 

Meanwhile, they are taking a variety of measurements and data samples, some of which includes listening to the Earth's chorus. 

Researchers plan to take additional recordings of the chorus and see just how widespread chorus is in the space above us. 

Learning more about the Van Allen Belts and the origin of killer electrons will help make spaceflight safer for astronauts.

In the meantime, we can enjoy the melodies of planet Earth. The mission has just started and will continue for the next two years. 


Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)