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Space Nerds Rejoice! Here Are The 15 Most Interesting Sounds Of NASA

Last month, NASA started their very own Soundcloud page, which includes everything from real mission audio, to recordings of rocket sounds, to transmissions from the far planets in our solar system. Here are some of the highlights.

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1. The Last Space Shuttle…EVER.

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A space shuttle that carried supplies and spare parts to the International Space Station may not seem all that important from the outside, but the Space Shuttle Atlantis’ STS-135 mission in July of 2011 was the last time the Space Shuttle was ever used by NASA.

Space shuttle Atlantis (STS-135) touches down at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF).
By NASA (NASA) [Public domain] / Via commons.wikimedia.org

Space shuttle Atlantis (STS-135) touches down at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF).

2. Radio Emissions from Saturn

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The unmanned Cassini spacecraft was launched in October of 1997 and arrived at Saturn in 2004, and has since sent daily streams of information back to earth about Saturn and its 53 (count 'em, 53!) moons. The above radio waves from the planet sounds like a ghost that has bad cell phone reception.

Photo taken during the Cassini spacecraft's approach to the planet Saturn.
By NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute [Public domain], / Via commons.wikimedia.org

Photo taken during the Cassini spacecraft's approach to the planet Saturn.

3. Lighting on Jupiter

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It may not sound like what we have on Earth, but this is lightning on Jupiter. It was captured by the Voyager space probe way back in 1979. Since then in 2012, Voyager reached interstellar space and became the farthest-travelling manmade object in history. Check out this additional clip to hear some of the sounds it captured beyond our solar system.

By NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov [Public domain] / Via commons.wikimedia.org

A sequence of images taken by the Voyager 1 probe between 58 and 31 million kilometers from Jupiter.

4. Radio Waves in Earth’s Atmosphere

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Is it a flock of birds or radio waves in the atmosphere? Known as a “chorus,” these waves are emitted by energized particles found in the outer part of the gargantuan magnetic field that surrounds Earth, known as the magnetosphere.

5. Light Waves From a Star

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It turns out the light wave sounds captured by the Kepler space observatory of this star kind of resemble weird ambient drone music you hear in shabby DIY loft spaces in Brooklyn. The Kepler spacecraft, which was launched in 2009, is kind of like something from the movie Interstellar (which is awesome, by the way) except from real life. Its mission is to find potentially habitable planets near the Milky Way galaxy. As of last year, Kepler has found 3,216 candidates for potential planets that may sustain life.

A pretty trippy artist's rendition of the Kepler spacecraft.
By NASA/JPL-Caltech/Wendy Stenzel [Public domain] / Via commons.wikimedia.org

A pretty trippy artist's rendition of the Kepler spacecraft.

6. Sounds From One of Saturn’s Moons

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Remember Cassini? After it was done scoping out Saturn it focused on dozens of its moons, including Enceladus, which it first passed in 2005 and sounds like this. This isn’t just some random moon though; it has a hot spot at its pole and has evidence of water beneath its surface, meaning it may hold the key to habitable planets other than earth. Enceladus might be a tight fit for everyone to move there though, the entire thing is the size of Arizona.

A mosaic of 21 separate false-color camera images of Enceladus taken by Cassini in July 2005.
By NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute [Public domain] / Via commons.wikimedia.org

A mosaic of 21 separate false-color camera images of Enceladus taken by Cassini in July 2005.

7. SLS Rocket Test Firings

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Be sure to turn the volume down for this one. The SLS—which stands for “Space Launch System”—is the successor to the Space Shuttle and will be the most powerful rocket in history, producing 8.4 million pounds of thrust at liftoff. An unmanned mission using the SLS is scheduled for 2017, and the first manned mission is scheduled for 2021.

An artist's rendition of NASA's Space Launch System.
By NASA [Public domain], / Via commons.wikimedia.org

An artist's rendition of NASA's Space Launch System.

8. What’s a Quindar?

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They're just beeps, but they’re still important ones! Those beeps you hear between radio transmissions from Mission Command and the Apollo Missions are called Quindar Tones, and are remote controls that trigger incoming and outgoing messages between the two. It’s a similar communications method used in regular walkie-talkies.

9. The First American to Experience Zero G

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Astronaut John Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth (and the third American in space). The giddy audio clip above is the mission communication from when Glenn experienced zero gravity for the first time. In his Friendship 7 spacecraft he would go on to orbit the Earth three times each at a whopping 17,400 miles per hour.

Astronaut John Glenn and the spacecraft Friendship 7.
By NASA/photographer unknown (Great Images in NASA Description) [Public domain], / Via commons.wikimedia.org

Astronaut John Glenn and the spacecraft Friendship 7.

10. Greetings Mexico…From Space!

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During the early Mercury mission, NASA set up radio tracking stations throughout the world to stay in constant contact with astronauts in orbit. This radio communication in Spanish from Mercury 7 is an “hola” to the tracking station in Guaymas in Mexico.

The NASA name for technicians who communicate directly to the spacecraft is the "CAPCOM."
By NASA (NASA Human Space Flight) [Public domain] / Via commons.wikimedia.org

The NASA name for technicians who communicate directly to the spacecraft is the "CAPCOM."

11. An E-Ticket to Ride

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Sally Ride was the first American woman in space and the first known LGBT astronaut. In the clip above, she jokes with Mission Control about her first ascent into orbit saying “This is definitely an E-ticket,” which referred to a fast pass that Disneyland used to give out for admission to the best rides.

Sally Ride on the flight deck of the space shuttle Challenger.
By NASA (spaceflight.nasa.gov [Public domain] / Via commons.wikimedia.org

Sally Ride on the flight deck of the space shuttle Challenger.

12. Dust It Off

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You see, sometimes astronauts don’t even know what they’re doing. When Space Shuttle Columbia returned from its STS-1 mission, the first NASA flight to use the Space Shuttle, commander John Young asked the control room where to bring the Shuttle since it was the first time a spacecraft landed like a regular commercial airplane.

Space Shuttle Columbia lands on a dry lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base after completing the first shuttle mission.
By NASA Johnson Space Center, Photo number: EC81-15104, also S81-30746 [Public domain] / Via commons.wikimedia.org

Space Shuttle Columbia lands on a dry lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base after completing the first shuttle mission.

13. “Houston We Have a Problem,” or Do We?

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There’s no question there was a problem on the infamous Apollo 13 mission when the spacecraft’s oxygen tanks exploded, leaving astronauts James Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise stranded in space before they managed to return safely to Earth. But the oft-quoted line “Houston, we have a problem,” is actually a mis-quote. Swigert initially says “Houston, we’ve had a problem here,” then Lovell repeats the line to mission control saying, “Houston, we’ve had a problem.”

The Apollo 13 crew from left to right: Commander, James A. Lovell Jr., Command Module pilot, John L. Swigert Jr.and Lunar Module pilot, Fred W. Haise Jr.
By NASA (Great Images in NASA Description) [Public domain] / Via commons.wikimedia.org

The Apollo 13 crew from left to right: Commander, James A. Lovell Jr., Command Module pilot, John L. Swigert Jr.and Lunar Module pilot, Fred W. Haise Jr.

14. The Clock Has Started!

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Astronaut Virgil “Gus” Grissom sure does sound like he’s having fun traveling 5,138 miles per hour on his spacecraft—nicknamed the Liberty Bell 7—during the Mercury 4 mission. It was the second manned spaceflight launched by NASA, and it was short and sweet: it lasted for only 15 minutes and 37 seconds.

Grissom and the the Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft.
By NASA [Public domain] / Via commons.wikimedia.org

Grissom and the the Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft.

15. Landing Gear

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When it was operational, the space shuttle came it for a landing at an angle 7 times steeper than normal commercial flights normally do, and approaches the runway 20 times faster than normal commercial flights as well. The landing gear is deployed only 5 seconds before touchdown (as the shuttle is moving at a max speed of 226 miles per hour).

By NASA/Sandra Joseph and Kevin O'Connell (KSC-2011-5841 – KSC-2011-5853) [Public domain] / Via commons.wikimedia.org

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