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Category Archives: space

It’s fascinating to think that some of the most beautiful and haunting music I’ve heard in my life isn’t the work of British electronic artists. Nope, what I’m listening to at this very moment was recorded by two automated NASA probes — and all the music itself was produced by the planets and moons of our solar systems.

Yep, I’m listening to “Symphonies of the Planets,” the five-volume collection of ambient space drone music released in 1992 by Lasterlight Records. When Voyager I and II made their 5-billion-mile journey across the solar system, the probes recorded electromagnetic waves in the soundless void of space surrounding Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus.
For instance, the probes picked up the interaction of solar wind on the planets magnetospheres, which releases ionic particles with an audible vibration frequency. Essentially, we can then translate these waves into sound waves and put them on an album.
The probes also recorded:
  • Waves from the magnetospheres
  • Trapped radio waves bouncing between each planet and the inner surface of its atmosphere
  • Electromagnetic field noise in space itself
  • Charged particle interactions of each planet, its moons and solar wind
  • Waves from charged particle emissions from the rings of some planets

I really can’t go any further till you hear the sounds for yourself. The probes recorded all this data on magnetometers, plasma detectors, low-energy charged particle detectors, radio antennas and instruments to measure cosmic rays and plasma waves. Then, some uncredited artist or artists arranged selections from these recordings into a more musical form. So you’re not listening to the raw data here, but rather an audible collage constructed from various pieces.

Sadly, the albums are out of print and mostly available in used or bootleg form; fortunately, a friend of mine had a copy, so here we are. Whether you’re a space junky or an electronic music fan, you really need to get your hands on these.

-Robert Lamb,

NASA Voyager Recordings-SYMPHONIES OF THE PLANETS I-V (1992)