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March 23, 2008

The sounds of Saturn

sound spectrum of radio emissions from Saturn as captured by the Cassini spacecraft

Looking for the perfect sound for that sci-fi movie you've been working on? Cassini to the rescue!

My interplanetary buddy, the Cassini spacecraft, has been busy collecting data from Saturn and its moons for years(*). Way back in the late 90s Cassini recorded the electro-magnetic radiation that occurs in the polar regions of Saturn's atmosphere (similar energy causes the Northern lights here on Earth). A while back some JPL scientists converted the transmissions to audible sound, giving us a sense of what Saturn sounds like.

I think the sound has a wonderfully spooky storm-at-the-South-Pole quality to it, combined with just the type of static that sounds like outer space. In short, it's JUST the sound you would want to use if you were making a creepy sci-fi space horror epic.

Take a listen to the sound of Saturn. Or grab a higher quality WAV file of the sound.

There's more about how the sound was made on NASA's Cassini site.

Wouldn't it be great if movie sound artists started using the Cassini Saturn sound everywhere? If it became as widely used as the Wilhelm scream?

(*) The Cassini spacecraft was launched from Earth in 1997. After following one of the gnarliest flight paths ever devised, Cassini went into orbit around Saturn in 2004.


Posted by Chris Spurgeon at March 23, 2008 05:23 PM


Without the source information, I'd have sworn this soundscape was by Louis & Bebe Barron. If this is the sound of whatever Saturn is thinking about, I'm glad to be millions of miles away.

Posted by: G. L. Dryfoos at March 25, 2008 08:58 AM