The sound of space discovery - GÉANT transforms 36 years of spacecraft data into duet

29/01/2014

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GÉANT, the pan-European data network serving 50 million research and education users at speeds of up to 500Gbps, recently demonstrated its power by sonifying 36 years’ worth of NASA Voyager spacecraft data and converting it into a musical duet.

voyager_graphic3.jpgLaunched in 1977, both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are now decommissioned but still recording and sending live data to Earth. They continue to traverse different parts of the universe, billions of kilometres apart. Voyager 1 left our solar system last year.

Spacecraft duet

The project is the work of Domenico Vicinanza, Network Services Product Manager at GÉANT. As a trained musician with a PhD in Physics, he also takes the role of Arts and Humanities Manager, exploring new ways for representing data and discovery through the use of high-speed networks.

Commenting on the duet he said: ​“I wanted to compose a musical piece celebrating the Voyager 1 and 2 *together*, so used the same measurements (proton counts from the cosmic ray detector over the last 37 years) from both spacecrafts, at the exactly same point of time, but at several billions of Kms of distance one from the other.

I used different groups of instruments and different sound textures to represent the two spacecrafts, synchronising the measurements taken at the same time.”

The result is an up-tempo string and piano orchestral piece. You can listen for yourself here:

 

From space data to beautiful music

To compose the spacecraft duet, 320,000 measurements were first selected from each spacecraft, at one hour intervals. Then that data was converted into two very long melodies, each comprising 320,000 notes using different sampling frequencies, from a few KHz to 44.1 kHz.

The result of the conversion into waveform, using such a big dataset, created a wide collection of audible sounds, lasting just a few seconds (slightly more than 7 seconds at 44.1kHz) to a few hours (more than 5hours using 1024Hz as a sampling frequency). A certain number of data points, from a few thousand to 44,100 were each “converted” into 1 second of sound.

Using the grid computing facilities at EGI, GÉANT was able to create the duet live at the NASA booth at Super Computing 2013 using its superfast network to transfer data to/from NASA.

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​Domenico Vicinanza presenting at Super Computing 2013


Why this project?

While this project was created as a fun, accessible way to demonstrate the benefit of research and education networks to society, data sonification - representing data by means of sound signals – is increasingly used to accelerate scientific discovery; from epilepsy research to deep space discovery.

Vicinanza continues: “Analysing the melody is exactly the same as looking at data in a spreadsheet, but using the ear. The information content is exactly the same: represented by regularities, patterns, changes, trends and peaks. In fact, data sonification makes it possible to get information about long-range regularities and correlations that are hard to spot just by inspection.”


Why is GÉANT so important to scientific discovery?

European scientists are generating an ever-increasing amount of data, for instance at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, and in all data-driven scientific disciplines such as health and medicine, climate change, energy and food security. Thanks to GÉANT, researchers across Europe now benefit from a network with a backbone capacity of 100Gbps. When the terabit era arrives, the network can support up to 2Tbps.
GÉANT is the infrastructure part funded by the European Commission to support many of Europe’s biggest science projects. Have a look at some of the many people benefitting from GÉANT.


Note to editors:
Download the full presentation on the GÉANT NASA Voyager sonification and pictures here: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B_U8Pnle4lbGY0I3VFd1YlRWMnc&usp=sharing

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​About GÉANT

GÉANT is the pan-European research and education network that interconnects Europe’s National Research and Education Networks (NRENs). Together we connect over 50 million users at 10,000 institutions across Europe, supporting research in areas such as energy, the environment, space and medicine.

Operating at speeds of up to 500Gbps and reaching over 100 national networks worldwide, GÉANT remains the largest and most advanced research and education network in the world.

Co-funded by the European Commission under the EU’s 7th Research and Development Framework Programme, GÉANT is a flagship e-Infrastructure key to achieving the European Research Area – a seamless and open European space for online research – and assuring world-leading connectivity between Europe and the rest of the world in support of global research collaborations.

The network and associated services comprise the GÉANT (GN3plus) project, a collaborative effort comprising 41 project partners: 38 European NRENs, DANTE, TERENA and NORDUnet (representing the 5 Nordic countries). GÉANT is operated by DANTE on behalf of Europe’s NRENs.

 

​About DANTE

DANTE (Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe) is a non-profit organisation established in 1993 that plans, builds and operates large scale, advanced networks for research and education. On behalf of Europe’s National Research and Education Networks (NRENs), DANTE has built and operates GÉANT, a flagship e-Infrastructure key to achieving the European Research Area.

Working in cooperation with the European Commission and in close partnership with Europe’s NRENs and international networking partners, DANTE remains fundamental to the success of global research collaboration.

DANTE manages research and education (R&E) networking projects serving Europe (GÉANT), the Mediterranean (EUMEDCONNECT), Sub-Saharan Africa (AfricaConnect), Central Asia (CAREN) regions and coordinates Europe-China collaboration (ORIENTplus). DANTE also supports R&E networking organisations in Latin America (RedCLARA), Caribbean (CKLN) and Asia-Pacific (TEIN*CC). For more information, visit www.dante.net


Acknowledgements
NASA National Space Science Data Center and the John Hopkins University Voyager LEPC experiment.

Sonification credits

Mariapaola Sorrentino and Giuseppe La Rocca.

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GEANT Association

GEANT Limited is part of the GÉANT Association. The GÉANT Association is the leading collaboration on network and related infrastructure and services for the benefit of research and education, contributing to Europe's economic growth and competitiveness.

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