Two researchers, Dr. Domenico Vicinanza of Anglia Ruskin University and Dr. Genevieve Williams, have “sonified” a video of the 5,000th Martian sunrise captured by the Mars rover, Opportunity. The music is a representation of the experience of seeing the sun rise over the red dunes as light pierces the planet’s atmosphere.
From the release:
Researchers created the piece of music by scanning a picture from left to right, pixel by pixel, and looking at brightness and colour information and combining them with terrain elevation. They used algorithms to assign each element a specific pitch and melody.
The quiet, slow harmonies are a consequence of the dark background and the brighter, higher pitched sounds towards the middle of the piece are created by the sonification of the bright sun disk.
Given that you are literally watching the sun rise over the sands of Mars thanks to the efforts of a little multi-wheeled robot and you can now hear the musical equivalent of this amazing breakthrough, it’s pretty hard to feel that humanity is heading toward a dark place. The next breakthrough, I suspect, will happen when we’re able to send a human orchestra up there to recreate it with real instruments.