NASA unlocks new sounds of the universe with project that transforms cosmic discoveries

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

NASA, through a process called sonification, translated 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.


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

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

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


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

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

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