Scientists have created the soundtrack of the 5,000th Mars sunrise captured by NASA’s robotic rover, Opportunity, using data sonification techniques to create a two-minute piece of music. Researchers from Anglia Ruskin University and University of Exeter in the UK created the piece of music by scanning a picture from left to right, pixel by pixel, and looking at brightness and colour information and combining them with terrain elevation.
They used algorithms to assign each element a specific pitch and melody. The quiet, slow harmonies are a consequence of the dark background and the brighter, higher pitched sounds towards the middle of the piece are created by the sonification of the bright sun disk. The piece, entitled Mars Soundscapes, will be presented at the Supercomputing SC18 Conference in Dallas, US, on 13 November.
Researchers will use both conventional speakers and vibrational transducers so the audience could feel the vibrations with their hands, thus enjoying a first-person experience of a sunrise on Mars. Opportunity is a robotic rover that has been providing photographic data on Mars for NASA since 2004. Earlier this year, it ceased communications following a dust storm. Scientists hope that it may resume its function later this year.