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Music to alien ears

3:09pm, June 26, 2007

From Salt Lake City, at a meeting of the Acoustical Society of America

What would a Deep Purple concert sound like on another world? The best rock venue in the solar system, it turns out, might be the surface of Saturn's moon Titan.

The atmospheres of different celestial bodies have different chemical compositions, densities, viscosities, and temperatures, all of which affect the way sound propagates.

Apart from two Soviet probes that sent crude sound data back from Venus in the early 1980s, the only space mission to have recorded sounds on another world was the European Space Agency's Huygens probe, which landed on Titan in 2005. Huygens mostly recorded wind noise during its descent.

Space scientists say that acoustical instruments on future missions could measure wind speeds and might answer such questions as whether there's thunder on Mars.

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