New NASA music will be out of this world

Published: 16 November 2015 at 08:54

The moon

Anglia Ruskin academic will perform live data beamed back from DSCOVR satellite

Two unique performances of the “Sound of the Earth” will be staged in Austin, Texas, on Monday, 16 November and Tuesday, 17 November.

Taking place in the NASA booth at the SC15 supercomputing conference, Dr Domenico Vicinanza from Anglia Ruskin University and GÉANT in Cambridge, UK, will be translating space data into music, in real time, which will then be performed live.

Dr Vicinanza, physicist, classical composer and Director of Anglia Ruskin University’s Sound And Game Engineering (SAGE) research group, will convert images of the Earth, beamed back from the NASA/NOAA satellite called DSCOVR, using a process called data sonification.

DSCOVR (Deep Space Climate Observatory) was launched in February this year from Cape Canaveral in Florida and has NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) on board.

Together with Anglia Ruskin University researcher Genevieve Williams, Dr Vicinanza has designed algorithms so that each EPIC image sent back from the satellite is given a specific pitch and melody.

Dr Vicinanza, who has previously produced music based on data from the NASA Voyager mission, will be joined on stage by guitarist Piotr Traczyk to perform the piece.

Dr Vicinanza said:

“From Johannes Kepler’s 17th century experiments to the modern sonifications of NASA’s Cassini and Voyager spacecraft, music and sound have accompanied space research and supported data analysis.
“During the presentation, I’ll show how I translate data into music and how the melodies inherit the unique properties of scientific measurements, giving a new dimension to space research – and even helping the blind to ‘see’ data.”