May 24, 2008

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Topo Tunes

image from Moonbells, JAXA-Selene

Have you heard the Apennines? Or perhaps the arppegio-rich north polar region or the bass thumping of the deep South Pole-Aitken Basin? Now you can. Engineers have transposed altimeter traces from the Kaguya lunar orbiter into music, or at least quasi-melodic sounds. The website shows a Moon globe with the track of the Kaguya orbit and instantaneous lat and long to help you identify sonically-intriguing features. It looks/sounds like low elevations are represented by low frequency sounds and high topography is higher pitch. A control panel allows all sorts of adjustments - its remarkably fun! And listening to the Moon may be effective in attracting many new people to lunar science. Mapping data to music is being tried in other field too, for example, music from protein DNA patterns, but one of the first I am aware of was back in the 1970s when some astronomers transposed the velocity variations of planets in their orbits. Now where did I put that old long-play record?

Chuck Wood

Technical Details
Once again, I thank Junya Terazono for alerting non-Japanese readers to new releases from Kaguya/Selene. I wish we had a similar person who did that for Chang'e but maybe there are no new public data from that mission?

Yesterday's LPOD: Virtually Perfect

Tomorrow's LPOD: Orbital Image


(1) Chuck and Junya, is ASADA not located between Taruntius and Mare Crisium? (Taruntius A, Rukl 37). I didn't knew of another Asada east of Reiner Gamma in Oceanus Procellarum!

--Danny C.

(2) Well I was up early this morning looking at the moon and Jupiter with my new 6 inch SCT. As I was doing my notes I tuned in this LPOD. My kids (ages 4 and 6) liked the music but my wife said it sounded awful and dark (of course she is not into astronomy as I am). Aethrae, Andrew Martin SFO

(3) Danny - Yes, I think it is an error... Aethrae - "music" is perhaps too kind a description - its a sonic mapping of data that sometimes we find pleasure in (and sometimes your wife is right!).

(4) A credit to the designers and engineers who put this together -- can't wait for the CD of tunes to come out in the near future. While I would guess that some of the tunes' titles may bare witness to the craters they pass over -- e.g. "I'm a Bailyver" and "Ladey Madonna" (aka: The Beatles), or "Then I Kiesed Her" (aka: The Everley Brothers) -- my own favourite would have to be "Moondance" by Van Morrison. Yes, he's Irish like myself :-)) John --

(5) Claude Debussy's Clair de Lune (P.S.: there's a wonderful version of it in the movie The Right Stuff, heard during the dancing-act on scene, while somewhere high in the atmosphere, test-pilot Scott Crossfield (or Chuck Yeager?) is "reaching the stars" aboard his F-104 Starfighter).
Chuck and Junya, the location of Taruntius A (Asada) is 50 degrees EAST, and not 50 degrees WEST, as labeled in the image above!

--Danny C.

(6) My friend Anna Maria Lombardi, who is an historian of physics and a Kepler expert, did a similar project with the help of other musicians. This work is closely based on Kepler's account in Harmonice mundi. The resulting MP3 audio files are freely available for download (scroll down to KEPLER MUSIC).

--Paolo Amoroso

(7) Wasn't there a related electro-acoustic experiment during the days of one of the Voyager's fly-bys at Saturn? (electronic "drone"-like sounds, made from Saturn's radiation).

--Danny C.


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