Listen to the 'mysterious' song of Rosetta's comet

A set of instruments on the ESA's Rosetta spacecraft designed to analyse the plasma environment surrounding the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko have recorded a 'mysterious' song.

By Salome Phelamei | Last Updated: Nov 13, 2014, 00:19 AM IST
Listen to the 'mysterious' song of Rosetta's comet
ESA/Rosetta/NavCam

Washington: A set of instruments on the ESA's Rosetta spacecraft designed to analyse the plasma environment surrounding the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko have recorded a 'mysterious' song.

On Wednesday, November 12, European robot probe Philae made a first historic landing on comet 67P, after descending from its mothership Rosetta.

The sounds are thought to be oscillations in the magnetic field around the comet. They were picked up by the Rosetta Plasma Consortium- a suite of five instruments on the spacecraft that is orbiting the comet.

An audio recording of the comet sound has been made available at https://soundcloud.com/esaops/a-singing-comet

It said the comet's song would not be audible to the human ear because it is being emitted at 40 to 50 millihertz, far below the threshold of human hearing, which typically picks up sound between 20 hertz and 20 kilohertz.

But, the good news is that Rosetta scientists have increased the frequencies by 10,000 times to make the sounds audible to humans.

The consortium instruments are designed to study a number of phenomena, including the interaction of 67P/C-G with the solar wind, a continuous stream of plasma emitted by the sun; changes of activity on the comet; the structure and dynamics of the comet's tenuous plasma atmosphere, known as the coma; and the physical properties of the comet's nucleus and surface, said NASA in its official site.

The comet sounds were first heard clearly by Rosetta's magnetometer experiment in August, when Rosetta drew to within 62 miles (100 kilometers) of 67P/C-G.

“This is exciting because it is completely new to us. We did not expect this and we are still working to understand the physics of what is happening,” said Karl-Heinz Glassmeier, head of Space Physics and Space Sensorics at the Technical University of Braunschweig, Germany.