Today, Cassini prepares to once again boldly go where no spacecraft has gone before: into the gap between Saturn and its rings. While weâre all excited to see the the results of Cassiniâs second dive, astronomers are still parsing through the findings from her first. And some, including a soundscape generated from the emptiness, are pretty freaky.
Apparently, the orbiterâs fist dive between Saturn and the gas giantâs rings, on April 26th, revealed that this mysterious, unexplored region is pretty much devoid of particles. Cassini Project Manager Earl Maize called it âthe big empty,â which sounds like something from Stranger Things, but you know, in space.
âThe region between the rings and Saturn is âthe big empty,â apparently,â he said in a statement. âCassini will stay the course, while the scientists work on the mystery of why the dust level is much lower than expected.â
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Cassiniâs mission into the âbig emptyâ was the âsoundsâ it picked up from particlesâor lack thereofâin the gap. According to NASA, Cassiniâs Radio and Plasma Wave Science (RPWS) instrument âdetected the hits of hundreds of ring particles per secondâ vaporizing into electrically-excited gas when it was just outside Saturnâs main rings, but within the gap, it detected very few.
Thankfully, scientists were able to convert these detections into audio files so we can all enjoy Cassiniâs hot beats. They sound like white noise and/or impending doom:
âIt was a bit disorienting â we werenât hearing what we expected to hear,â William Kurth, RPWS team lead at the University of Iowa, said in a statement. âIâve listened to our data from the first dive several times and I can probably count on my hands the number of dust particle impacts I hear.â
After todayâs dive, Cassini will have just 20 more orbits until it plunges itself into Saturnâs atmosphere. Maybe by the end of its Grand Finale, weâll have enough material for an albumâfingers crossed itâs named âSpace Jams.â