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>> Sounds of 'Alien Birds' in Space Recorded by NASA Spacecraft

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09/26/2012 07:43 AM
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>> Sounds of 'Alien Birds' in Space Recorded by NASA Spacecraft
A NASA spacecraft has made the clearest record yet of choruses of noise in the Earth's magnetosphere.

The chirps and whoops were captured by one of NASA's two recently launched Radiation Belt Storm Probes spacecraft, whose mission is to understand more about space weather.

"My wife calls it 'alien birds,'" joked experiment principal investigator Craig Kletzing, an astronomer at the University of Iowa.

The twin RBSP spacecraft are exploring the magnetosphere, an area where solar particles add energy to the Earth's magnetic environment, leading to a release of energy in the Van Allen radiation belt.

The "alien birds" sound happens in radio waves, in a frequency humans can hear, as lower-energy particles transfer their energy to higher-energy particles.

The energy transfer generates the noise, and researchers suspect it also generates waves of plasma that affect one of the important processes of space weather.

While researchers have known about the choral sounds for decades, the $686-million RBSP measures these sounds in higher resolution than any spacecraft that came before.

[link to www.space.com]

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