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This Is What Space Sounds Like

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While it may be true that in space no one can hear you scream, that doesn’t necessarily mean the universe is completely silent. Recordings released by NASA in the early '90s show just how noisy space can be if you know how to listen.

In 1977, NASA launched Voyagers 1 and 2 into the vacuum of space in hopes of studying the outer planets of our solar system. Traveling at about 30,000 miles per hour, these probes have traversed billions of miles since their launch, all while sending home vast amounts of information and images of some of our more distant neighbors, including Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus. On August 25, 2012, Voyager 1 became the first human-made object to leave our solar system, and it still manages to send back vital information in messages that take over 17 hours to reach Earth.

Voyager 1 may have to wait about another 40,000 years to approach another star, but that may be a relief to the probe, because our neighbors never shut up. There may be no mechanical noise—sound that requires a medium such as a solid, liquid, or gas to resonate through—in space, but electromagnetic waves have no problem traveling through a vacuum. As they passed by the outer planets, Voyagers 1 and 2 recorded this wave data as solar wind clashed with the planets’ magnetospheres. The probes also managed to listen in on atmospheric radio waves, charged particle interactions, and even some particle emissions from places like Saturn’s rings, then relay all of this data back home.

Electromagnetic waves can’t be heard in their raw form, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be converted into something audible. Just as radio waves can be translated into the sound of morning FM talk show hosts, the Voyager data streams can be converted into audio, thereby letting humans listen in on interplanetary conversations. And, as it turns out, these conversations are riveting. 

In 1992, NASA released a series of these recordings entitled Symphonies of the Planets. The tracks are beautifully haunting in a way that rivals anything experimental electronic artists make. The collection’s echoing siren sounds manage to give the listener a sense of just how vast and complex our universe is, as well as how amazing an achievement the Voyagers are. Unfortunately, due to some cosmic injustice, the albums are no longer in print, but just like the electromagnetic waves, there are ways to still listen to them. Copies now exist on YouTube and streaming services like Spotify. Go ahead and give them a listen, and try not to get misty-eyed while hearing what the Voyagers heard as they hurtled onward into a vast, quiet universe. Well, relatively quiet.

See also: What Does Space Smell Like?

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Watch Astronauts Assemble Pizza in Space
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Most everyone enjoys a good pizza party: Even astronauts living aboard the International Space Station.

As this video from NASA shows, assembling pizza in zero gravity is not only possible, it also has delicious results. The inspiration for the pizza feast came from Paolo Nespoli, an Italian astronaut who was craving one of his home country’s national dishes while working on the ISS. NASA’s program manager for the space station, Kirk Shireman, sympathized with his colleague and ordered pizzas to be delivered to the station.

NASA took a little longer responding to the request than your typical corner pizzeria might. The pizzas were delivered via the Orbital ATK capsule, and once they arrived, the ingredients had to be assembled by hand. The components didn’t differ too much from regular pizzas on Earth: Flatbread, tomato sauce, and cheese served as the base, and pepperoni, pesto, olives, and anchovy paste made up the toppings. Before heating them up, the astronauts had some fun with their creations, twirling them around like "flying saucers of the edible kind,” according to astronaut Randy Bresnik.

In case the pizza party wasn’t already a success, it also coincided with movie night on the International Space Station.

[h/t KHQ Q6]

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Liberty Science Center
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New Jersey Is Now Home to the Western Hemisphere's Largest Planetarium
Liberty Science Center
Liberty Science Center

Space-loving tourists often travel to Manhattan to visit the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. But starting December 9, they’ll be able to get their fill of stars and planets in nearby Jersey City. As Astronomy reports, New Jersey’s second-most-populous city is now home to the largest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere, and the fourth largest in the world.

The Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, an interactive science museum in Liberty State Park, opened in 1993. It’s home to 12 museum exhibition halls, aquariums, a live animal collection, and an IMAX dome theater. On July 31, 2017, the theater was closed for extensive renovations, thanks to a $5 million gift from an altruistic former high school teacher-turned-philanthropist, Jennifer Chalsty, who’s served as a science center trustee since 2004.

Renamed the Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium, the IMAX theater received a digital upgrade and a brand-new screen, and was provided with the requisite technology to serve as a planetarium. The theater’s dome is 60 feet high, with a diameter of 89 feet, and its 10-projector system broadcasts onto a 12,345-square-foot domed screen.

There are only three planetariums in the world that are larger than the Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium, and they’re all located in China and Japan. “You can fit any other planetarium in the Western Hemisphere inside the Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium,” said Paul Hoffman, the science center's president and CEO, in a press release. “Add in the state-of-the-art technology and you have a spectacular unique theater like none other in the world. Visitors will be able to fly through the universe, experience the grandness and vastness of space, roam planetary surfaces, navigate asteroid fields, and watch the latest full-dome movies."

[h/t Astronomy]

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