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NASA Space Science

Cassini Captures Audio of Storm On Saturn 51

Sooner Boomer writes "The Cassini space probe has been monitoring an enormous storm on Saturn since it was detected last December. The storm, dubbed 'The Great White Spot', now 500 times larger than any previously seen by Cassini at Saturn, is 8 times the surface area of Earth. Observers on Earth have been able to see a bright white 'smudge' in the northern half of the planet." NASA released a recording of the electrical noise generated by the lightning.
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Cassini Captures Audio of Storm On Saturn

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    When the earth next orbits past Saturn, will the storm cause any damage? I bet the Saturn wind blowing across the sea would cause big waves, maybe even a tsunami, are we even prepared for this?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, there is a definite, strong likelyhood that the storm on Saturn will blow across the sea and cause big waves, and tsunamis are a possibility. We are also totally unprepared for this. I scared.

  • Not really audio (Score:5, Informative)

    by TrisexualPuppy ( 976893 ) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @08:50AM (#36681680)
    Cassini didn't capture audio of the storm. It captured essentially electrical noise which would be like turning an AM radio on during a thunder storm. The summary and webpage are a little misleading in this regard--it's not as though a microphone on a balloon was dropped into the atmosphere.
    • it's not as though a microphone on a balloon was dropped into the atmosphere.

      No, but a microphone on the Hugyens probe did as it descended through Titan's atmosphere. Here's the audio. [] The sound isn't particularly exciting, but the achievement certainly is.

    • by jpapon ( 1877296 )
      I know you're only trying to help, but they're only misleading if you don't understand what a transducer is.
    • Your distinction is correct; but it would be very interesting to know if there is any way of inferring, from the electrical noise, what the physical state and thus, (with some greater or lesser degree of inexactitude) what the situation would sound like if you had a mic on the scene...

      On the plus side, Cassini has demonstrated the capabilities necessary to capture that distinctive noise that TIE fighters make as they fly past, inexplicably following approximately WWII aerial maneuvering constraints in ha
      • I really doubt it, because a large number of the things that cause loud noises have very little electric effect, and vice versa. Sound is caused by vibration, electricity is not (except in some cases).

      • by jpapon ( 1877296 )
        Well, if they are receiving EM waves caused by lightning, it would probably cause a pressure wave similar in nature to "thunder". It would be difficult to say what it would sound like at one particular location, since I imagine their recording is a superposition of all the electrical activity coming from a large region of the storm. I also imagine the sound would vary greatly based on altitude (due to different atmospheric pressures). On the other hand I don't think (but I'm not entirely sure) that what you
  • This sounds like playing a 12" vinyl album at 33 1/3 when there's all kinds of dust and scratches on the record. I guess I kind of hoped it would sound...well....interesting in some way.
    • ok, ok, ok who has been whacking it -- while simultaneously holding their mic -- with their mic open?
    • by PPH ( 736903 )
      Yeah. I almost expected to hear Glenn Miller and his band come in.

      Maybe now we know what happened to him.

  • It took a couple thousand NASA scientists, a couple billion dollars... but now we know. Yes, it blends.

    • Sweet! We have a blender large enough that we can blend Saturn in it? .... ...... .........

      Our Galactic Conquest is at hand and can finally begin! All races of the galaxy will bow down before our mighty blender or be consumed within its warm embrace!

  • Finally! It took a while but now I can change my ambient bakcground music at home from whale singing to static stomach cramp noises! It is even better than those tree hugging hippie crap rain forest cds! I haven't heard such a nice sound since my old AM radio died a decade ago... I wonder if it will make it to Hit #1 though?!
  • Oh, so roughly the same size as a Minecraft world then.
  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @09:35AM (#36682118)
    The real mystery is how NASA managed to compress the 93Kb wave file into a 120Kb MP3 file. Solving that might explain some of their budgetary issues.
    • They wanted super high fidelity, so encoded it as a 3000kbps mp3 to up the quality from the original source.

    • by jpapon ( 1877296 )
      Yeah they used some weird transcoder. mp3check doesn't even recognize it as an audo mpeg stream. They also upsampled their 4khz .wav file into an 8khz mp3. Don't worry though, I'm sure audiophiles can hear the difference =p
  • Your technointerpretive presentations of simufactual infotainment never fails to edutroll me.
  • not as noisy as the dark brown storm on Uranus

  • People have been listening to this on our planet for sometime. Atmospherics or 'sferics' for short are generated by lighting and are actually very wide band in coverage. Yes they can be heard on shortwave radios as a crackle and loud crash but the one I listen with is custom made for this purpose (BBB-4 VLF receiver). They can be quite interesting to listen to as lighting produces some interesting sounds when cut off in frequency; whistlers, Chorus and tweeks for example. Other interesting sounds can be hea
  • ... the atmosphere is blowing by some sort of fixed object below the cloud tops. The linked photo sure looks like eddies in a current rather than a rotating storm.

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