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NASA Unveils New Sounds of the Universe with Project That Transforms Cosmic Discoveries

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A new NASA project has transformed the beauty of the universe into sound, allowing visually impaired people to experience the wonders of space.

NASA, through a process called sonification, translated the data into sound to accompany new images of celestial objects observed by the agency’s space telescopes. The audio was released in conjunction with a new documentary about the project, “Listen to the Universe,” which debuted Wednesday on the agency’s new NASA+ streaming platform.

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“Sonifications add a new dimension to stunning space images and make these images accessible for the first time to the blind and visually impaired community,” said Liz Landau, who leads multimedia efforts for NASA’s Astrophysics Division and oversaw the production of the documentary. “I was honored to help tell the story of how Dr. Arcand and the System Sounds team create these unique sonic experiences and the vast impact these sonifications have had.”

THE NASA sonification project began in 2020 and stems from other Chandra X-ray Observatory projects aimed at reaching blind and visually impaired audiences. “Listen to the Universe” explores the process of creating these sonifications.

Telescopes like Chandra X-ray Observatory typically collect scientific data from space in the form of digital signals and transform them into visual images. Sonification is a similar process but with audio.

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The first sonification is that of a supernova remnant blowing a cloud of energetic particles. Another is a spiral galaxy, similar to the Milky Way, and the third is a space cloud of dust and gas nicknamed the “Jellyfish Nebula.”

The NASA+ streaming platform was created to deliver videos and other content on demand about the agency to the public and can be downloaded to most major platforms via the NASA app.

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