This is the sound of a sunrise on Mars, translated into music – and it's completely haunting

9 November 2018, 15:01 | Updated: 9 November 2018, 15:18

By Elizabeth Davis

Scientists at Anglia Ruskin University have created a two-minute piece using a technique called 'data sonification' to translate a photograph of a sunrise on Mars into music

The robotic exploration rover Opportunity recently captured an image of the sunrise on the red planet.

It was the 5,000th sunrise the rover had witnessed and scientists at the Anglia Ruskin University decided to turn the image into a piece of music.

Using a technique called data sonification, Dr Domenico Vicinanza of Anglia Ruskin University and Dr Genevieve Williams of the University of Exeter, turned this image into music.

They first scanned the image pixel by pixel, tracking changes in brightness, colour and terrain. They then used an algorithm to assign each different element pitch and melody.

The result is a piece called Mars Soundscapes which will be premiered at the Supercomputer SC18 Conference in Dallas on 13 November.

Dr Vicinanza said: “We are absolutely thrilled about presenting this work about such a fascinating planet. Image sonification is a really flexible technique to explore science and it can be used in several domains, from studying certain characteristics of planet surfaces and atmospheres, to analysing weather changes or detecting volcanic eruptions.”

It's not the first time Dr Vicinanza has turned space objects and events into music. In 2017 he created a piece of music using data from Voyager 1, and in 2015 he worked with data from the Large Hadron Collider to compose a work.

The rover Opportunity has been exploring the red planet for NASA since 2004, but scientists lost communication with it earlier this year after a dust storm.