A spacecraft from NASA, the Parker Solar Probe was launched into space in 2018 with a mission to “touch the sun.”
The spacecraft designed to withstand incredible temperatures will probe and study the Sun’s outer corona and approach within 9.86 solar radii (6.9 million kilometers or 4.3 million miles) from the center of our star. In 2025, the spacecraft is expected to travel around 690,000 km/h (430,000 mph), or 0.064% the speed of light.
The spacecraft continues hurling towards the sun, and as it does, it is making unprecedented discoveries offering a plethora of data about our sun. In October of 2018, the spacecraft made history becoming the closes ever artificial object to the sun.
As the spacecraft passes around the sun, it will achieve a velocity of up to 200 km/s (120 mi/s), making it the fastest man-made object ever launched into space.
The mission’s goal is to determine the structure and dynamics of the magnetic fire at the source of the solar wind, gathered data that will help experts determine the mechanisms that accelerate and transport energetic particles, and trace the flow of energy that heats the corona, and accelerates the solar wind.
As the spacecraft hurtles towards the sun it gathers data, and one of the instruments onboard the probe has the capability to listen to ‘the interaction of waves and particles that make up the solar wind and translates it into sounds.
The Solar wind that emanates from the sun is terrifying, to say the least. It doesn’t sound like a soft whistle but like the scream of a hurricane. Made of electrons, protons and heavier ions, the solar wind crosses the solar system at approximately 1.6 million kilometers per hour, hitting everything in its path.
However, through this terrifying roar of the solar wind, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe hears the small squeaks and whispers that hint at the origin of this mysterious and ever-present wind.
The FIELDS spacecraft instrument can spy on electrical and magnetic fluctuations caused by plasma waves.
Translated into tones, this is what the solar wind coming from our sun actually sounds like.
The Parker Solar Probe hears when the waves and particles interact with one another, recording frequency and amplitude data about these plasma waves that scientists could then play as sound waves.
And it results in some striking sounds.
“We are looking at the young solar wind being born around the sun,” explained Nour Raouafi, mission project scientist for the Parker Solar Probe.
“And it’s completely different from what we see here near Earth.”