Cassini’s Dreams A Cassini Sound Art Work

Cassini Mission Inspired Album

Cassini's DreamsThe sound art album “Cassini’s Dreams” brings to life some fascinating unheard aspects of Saturn’s rings. In 1610 Galileo was the first person to observed Saturn. To this day Saturn is still one of the solar systems prime objects of wonder.  In 1997 NASA launched the Cassini probe. She traveled on a ten-year voyage to study the Saturn system getting closer than any human object had ever been before. During the mission, Cassini sent back over 400 gigabytes of raw data including over 400,000 images of Saturn, her rings and moons.  The vast majority of this information was in the form of black and white pictures and movies of the unEarthly beauty of the Saturn system.  However, the sheer magnitude of new information and the unexpected form it took, begged for new ways to explore the planet and the data.

Based on our discovery of her sounds for NASA we built this artistic interpretation of Cassini’s tour. “Cassini’s Dreams” is a rich sound art experience. There she was our virtual eyes and ears on Saturn. As the probe swept past the gas giant, traveling above and below her rings, swooping down on moons to fly through icy plumes, above methane oceans, past shepherd moons guiding ring particles in their orbits and spying  on propeller moons as  they create delicate internal structures and waves. These were two decades of wonder and data collected, until Cassini finally plunged in her death throes into the cold cloud tops of the planet itself.  “Cassini’s Dreams” lets you join Cassini in her exploration of the giant ringed planet nine times as far from the sun as we are from Earth.

The Cassini Probe Inspires Sound Art

This sound art album was first inspired by the image of Saturn and her rings. As a visual artist I look closely at images and thought that Saturn’s rings looked very much like a vinyl record album with Saturn as the center core and all of the tracks as her rings. I imagined that the gaps of the tracks as the spaces between the rings. Then as a sound based artist I realized that to create the sounds of her rings would be a unique and exciting CD to produce.

Cassini Mission Sound Art Tracks

Here are the tracks from the mission inspired album “Cassini’s Dreams”

1) Introplanetary
This is a sonic interpretation of the quiet, emptiness Cassini experienced on her 10 year journey. It was a slingshot maneuver that took her by Venus, Earth and then Jupiter to get to Saturn.

2) Hohmann’s Ballet
Cassini’s complex gravity dependent orbits put her and our ears swinging around and past the rings. She plunged through the crystalline sounds of ice crystals and dust particles. As a result we can hear them they hitting the space craft.

3) Cassini’s Dream 1: Unveiling
Cassini’s Dreams are interpretations of individual explorations of the 7 main rings. It starts with the relatively quiet structure of the outermost dim, yet dynamic F ring and concludes with an unveiling.

4) Cassini’s Dream 2: Collecting Echoes
Here Cassini explores the rings and cloud-covered Titan. However it was the radar exploration that revealed hidden structures and far away echoes.

5) Cassini’s Dream 3: Propeller and Spokes
Here is a sonic exploration of some of the more unusual features of the rings, the “spokes.” These are charged particles trapped and moving with Saturn’s rotating magnetic field. In addition is the acoustic “prop wash” from the propeller moons as they tumble through the particles of the rings.

More of the Spacecraft Inspired Tracks

6) Cassini’s Dream 4: Small Orbits
Cassini’s data shows not only the her grandeur but also her 82 known moons. In addition are the numerous tiny moonlets that are orbiting within the rings themselves. Therefore it forms a complex multidimensional acoustic ballet.

7) Cassini’s Dream 5: Kamakazi Snowflakes
Most of the mass of the Saturn is tied up in the planet, rings and moons. In addition there are uncountable numbers of tiny ice particles that escape and fill the surrounding system. Their action of slamming into Cassini, tells a subtle and complex tale of gravity and energy.

8) Cassini’sDream 6: Grand Mumuration
Like birds flocking a giant cloud of wing-like particles form an enormous field that orbits the planet in persistent flight.

9) Surfing the Gap
As the ship dips through the rings it hears the voluminous array that in other wards, is their sound.

10) Cloudboarding
In her final moments, Cassini is sent to surf the Saturnian cloud decks. This maneuver keep her from contaminating the surface of the planet’s icy  moons. She uses her last few ergs of energy to signal home. In addition she briefly lights up the skies like a lightning flash before disappearing forever.

11) Saturn Remains
Our eyes and ears around Saturn are gone (for now). However we are left with years-worth of information to inspire us while Saturn remains, waiting in the dark.

About the Cassini Sonic Mission Team

This unusual multi-disciplined collaborative project, marries art with science. It was created by China Blue a sound based artist who was the first person to record the Eiffel Tower.  Dr. Seth S. Horowitz contributed substantially to the development and composition. He was a Neuroscientist who applied the science of how the brain processes sound to music. In addition Lance T. Massey the creator of T-Mobile ringtone is the award winning composer. Together they produced these works which were realized through the support of NASA/RI Space Consortium and Canadian Council of the Arts grants.

Your purchase

Your purchase of “Cassini’s Dreams” will help fund new programs at The Engine Institute, Inc a 501 (c)(3) non-profit institution. The Engine Institute, Inc. is dedicated to promoting artists working at the intersection of art science and technology.