ann2208 — Announcement
Webb’s First Full-Colour Images and Data Are Set to Sound
31 August 2022
A team of experts, including scientists and musicians, has created a new way to explore the images and data from the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope. The first two tracks map the prismatic landscapes of the Cosmic Cliffs in the Carina Nebula as well as two views of the Southern Ring Nebula. A third track plays the notes of a transmission spectrum, which graphs the atmospheric characteristics of hot gas giant exoplanet WASP-96 b. All allow listeners to pick out key features and experience the data in a new way.
There’s a new, immersive way to explore some of the first full-colour infrared images and data from the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope — through sound. Listeners can enter the complex soundscape of the Cosmic Cliffs in the Carina Nebula, explore the contrasting tones of two images that depict the Southern Ring Nebula, and identify the individual data points in a transmission spectrum of hot gas-giant exoplanet WASP-96 b.
A team of scientists, musicians, and a member of the blind and visually impaired community worked to adapt Webb’s data, with support from the Webb mission and NASA’s Universe of Learning. These audio tracks specifically support blind and low-vision listeners, but are designed to be captivating to anyone who tunes in.
The tracks are not actual sounds recorded in space. Instead, Webb’s data have been mapped into sound, and the music has been carefully composed to accurately represent details the team would like listeners to focus on. In a way, these sonifications are like modern dance or abstract painting: they convert Webb’s images and data to a new medium to engage and inspire listeners.
The following tracks have been developed:
- Cosmic Cliffs — Complete Sonification
- Cosmic Cliffs — Top
- Cosmic Cliffs — Bottom
- Cosmic Cliffs — Stars
- Southern Ring Nebula — Side By Side
- Southern Ring Nebula — NIRCam
- Southern Ring Nebula — MIRI
- WASP 96b — Transmission Spectrum
The full array of Webb’s first images and spectra, including downloadable files, can be explored here: https://esawebb.org/initiatives/webbs-first-images/.
Webb is the largest, most powerful telescope ever launched into space. Under an international collaboration agreement, ESA provided the telescope’s launch service using the Ariane 5 launch vehicle. Working with partners, ESA was responsible for the development and qualification of Ariane 5 adaptations for the Webb mission and for the procurement of the launch service by Arianespace. ESA also provided the workhorse spectrograph NIRSpec and 50% of the mid-infrared instrument MIRI, which was designed and built by a consortium of nationally funded European Institutes (The MIRI European Consortium) in partnership with JPL and the University of Arizona.
Webb is an international partnership between NASA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
These sonifications are a result of a collaboration between NASA’s Universe of Learning programme and the James Webb Space Telescope.
Accessibility Production Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Kimberly Arcand (CXC, SAO), Matt Russo (SYSTEM Sounds), Andrew Santaguida (SYSTEM Sounds), Quyen Hart (STScI), Claire Blome (STScI), Christine Malec
ESA/Webb Chief Science Communications Officer
Email: [email protected]
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