NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has led to yet another astonishing discovery. With the help of the Radio Plasma Wave Science (RPWS) instrument on board the spacecraft, researchers have recorded “a surprisingly powerful and dynamic interaction” of plasma waves moving between Saturn and its moon Enceladus.
When they converted the waves into an audio file, it produced a “whooshing” sound that we can hear. It was part of a new research from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft’s Grand Finale orbits. According to the federal space agency, the researchers managed to do it in the same way a radio translates electromagnetic waves into music.
Like never before
NASA also claimed that this was the first time when the waves were detected traveling on magnetic field lines connecting Saturn directly to Enceladus. These field lines resemble an electrical circuit between the ringed planet and its moon, with energy flowing to and fro.
“Enceladus is this little generator going around Saturn, and we know it is a continuous source of energy,” Ali Sulaiman, planetary scientist at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, and a member of the RPWS team, said in a statement.
“Now we find that Saturn responds by launching signals in the form of plasma waves, through the circuit of magnetic field lines connecting it to Enceladus hundreds of thousands of miles away,” Sulaiman, who is also the lead author of a pair of papers (1, 2) describing the findings, published recently in Geophysical Research Letters, added.
Earth and Moon have different relationship
Earth and the Moon share a relationship which is different from the interaction of Saturn and Enceladus. Immersed in Saturn’s magnetic field, Enceladus is geologically active, and emits plumes of water vapor that become ionized and fill the environment around Saturn.
Our own Moon, on the other hand, does not interact in the same way with Earth. The Sun, Earth and the Moon interact in a complex mix of motions and forces. The Moon remains on its orbit because of Earth’s pull while the sun’s pull on Earth keeps it in its orbit.
In addition, the tides in Earth’s oceans caused by the gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun on the planet’s oceans. The Moon pulls the oceans with it as it moves across the sky.
When it comes to the latest discovery, the recording was captured on Sept. 2, 2017.
“This result provides new insight into the spatial extent of the electrodynamic interaction between Saturn and Enceladus,” researchers said in one of the studies.