Two British researchers have converted images of a Martian sunrise into music. Dr. Genevieve Williams, of the University of Exeter, and Dr Domenico Vicinanza, of Anglia Ruskin University, used data sonification technique to create a two-minute soundtrack of the Martian sunrise captured by NASA's Opportunity rover.
Since its arrival on Mars in January 2004, NASA's Opportunity rover has sent detailed photographs of various features present on the Martian surface. In June, a dust storm forced Opportunity to cease communication and enter the hibernation mode. However, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was able to snap a picture of the rover from space in September.
The images of the Martian sunrise, which the British researchers have converted into a musical piece, were captured on Opportunity's 5,000th Sol (Martian day).
To create the music, researchers scanned the images from left to right. They looked at the brightness and colour details of each pixel and combined the information with terrain elevation. The team then used the data sonification technique that deployed algorithms to assign each element a particular melody and pitch, thus translating the images into music.
The dark backgrounds were assigned quiet, slow sounds, while the bright backgrounds were described by brighter, higher pitched sounds. "We are absolutely thrilled about presenting this work about such a fascinating planet," said Dr. Vicinanza.
Dr Vicinanza and Dr Williams will present this soundtrack, dubbed Mars Soundscapes, on 13th November at the Supercomputing SC18 Conference in Dallas. During the presentation, they will use conventional speakers as well as vibrational transducers to let audience feel vibrations in their hands as they listen to this creative piece of music.
According to Dr. Vicinanza, image sonification technique can be useful in a variety of domains, such as studying weather changes on a planet, detecting volcanic eruptions, and analysing some specific characteristics of the planet's surface.
The technology can also have application in health science, where it could help researchers to study the occurrence of certain colours and shapes, especially useful in image diagnostics.
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