Video Scientists in England have documented the five thousandth sunrise spied by NASA’s Opportunity rover in the form of interpretive dance music.
It was created using a technique known as image sonification. Domenico Vicinanza, director of the sound and game engineering group at the Anglia Ruskin University and Genevieve Williams, a lecturer at the University of Exeter started with an image of the Martian sunrise.
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The individual pixels were scanned from left to right and data about its brightness and color were collected. These figures were then correlated with the elevation of the ground, sky and Sun in the background and fed into an algorithm to work out the pitch and melody of the pixels.
The beginning and end of the song are filled with low pitches and map to the edges of the image, where there are only empty patches of sky. Things get slightly more interesting towards the middle of the song, where the Sun is shining.
The two-minute-track is an ambient mish mash of electronic bleeps and bloops. It starts off with a low rumble that grows steadily louder before a short sequence of notes are repeated on a loop.
These fade away and the song becomes more dramatic and spacey, it’s a pretty fitting description for a barren, dusty wasteland of a planet, but no Orbital One Perfect Sunrise.
Here’s what it sounds like.
“Image sonification is a really flexible technique to explore science and it can be used in several domains, from studying certain characteristics of planet surfaces and atmospheres, to analysing weather changes or detecting volcanic eruptions,” said Vicinanza earlier this week.
Other groups of researchers have used similar techniques to map the sounds of stars in the Milky Way. Here, the pitches are related to the star’s brightness.
The picture used for this project is an old one taken from Opportunity. The poor thing has been silent since it was swamped by a dust storm in June, earlier this year. All attempts made at contacting the rover have not been successful so far and NASA will issue an update on the situation in January.
The researchers will be showcasing their song and work at the Supercomputing SC18 Conference in Dallas, Texas, USA, next week. ®