Everyone’s heard of “Monster Mash” and “Thriller,” but NASA recently released its own spooky playlist that’s guaranteed to make your Halloween party the scariest in town.
The “Spooky Space Sounds” compilation, which is available on SoundCloud, features 22 eerie audio clips of spacecraft like the Juno Jupiter probe, Cassini Saturn mission and Voyager robot making their way through the cosmos.
“Soaring to the depths of our universe, gallant spacecraft roam the cosmos, snapping images of celestial wonders,” NASA said in a statement. “Some spacecraft have instruments capable of capturing radio emissions. When scientists convert these to sound waves, the results are eerie to hear.”
In classic NASA fashion, the playlist also includes an explanation of what listeners are actually hearing in the sound clips.
Here’s a roundup of some of the coolest audio.
Juno Captures the ‘Roar’ of Jupiter
When Juno entered Jupiter’s orbit last year, the planet’s magnetic field collided with the solar wind (charged particles released by the sun). The resulting whooshing and whistling sounds turned into a deep boom as Juno moved further inside the planet.
NASA scientists also use a process called data sonification to translate radio signals into sound. That process allows researchers to discover what weather phenomena like lightning sounds like on Jupiter.
NASA compares these electromagnetic waves to ocean surf—they create a “rhythmic cacophony” that has been recorded on several NASA missions.
When lightning strikes the ground, the electrical discharge produces a specific kind of plasma wave called a whistler wave. It might sound like the universe is dropping the bass, but NASA actually likens these waves to bumper cars which bounce between the magnetic fields at Earth’s north and south poles.
Whistler waves which travel inside the plasmasphere (a thin layer of cold, dense plasma that surrounds Earth) produce a so-called “plasmaspheric hiss” which sounds a lot like radio station static.
Saturn’s Radio Emissions
The Cassini spacecraft has been detecting radio waves on Saturn for about 15 years, and NASA has recorded each of them in high resolution. The compressed signals vary in frequency and time, and feature rising and falling tones similar to Earth’s radio emissions. These sounds offer sonic clues into Jupiter’s complex magnetic field.
In 2011, NASA’s Stardust spacecraft flew by the Tempel 1 comet. An instrument on its protective shield was pelted by about 5,000 dust particles and small rocks. The resulting short audio clip provided the first evidence of what a comet sounded like.
Whether or not these tracks become part of your holiday playlist, you’ll definitely learn a thing or two. Happy Halloween!