There isn’t supposed to be any sound in space. Without a gaseous medium, sound has no way to travel. The vacuum of space is silent. Or is it?
It’s not, actually. While it’s true that you can’t hear things in space as you would, say, on Earth, sound does travel as electromagnetic waves. As it turns out, space is a very noisy–and rather musical –place. Listen.
Which brings me to the dark side of the moon–which, as all moon watchers know, isn’t dark at all. It gets its fair share of sunlight, but because one side of the moon is tidally locked to the Earth, we only get to see half of it. In our hubris, we simply declared the side we couldn’t see to be “dark.”
But because we can’t see it, we’re fascinated with it. What’s happening over there? Ancient alien bases? Or is some extra-terrestrial species using Farside as a staging point for an invasion? And what’s all that music coming from there?
Yes, music. Or at least something pleasantly tonal.
Back in 1969 when Apollo 10 circled the moon on its dress rehearsal for the landing that was to come with the next mission, they heard something strange in their headphones when they were out of contact with Mission Control. It was an odd whistling sound. Now-declassified records of the mission include this conversation between Commander Thomas Stafford, Command Module Pilot John Young and Lunar Module Pilot Eugene Cernan:
“You hear that? That whistling sound? Whoooooooooo!”
“It sounds like, you know, outer space music.”
“I tell you, that music is really weird.”
“No one will believe us.”
What were they hearing? It couldn’t be a magnetic field (the moon hasn’t one), atmospheric noise (ditto) or anything else local. This is the topic of a new episode of NASA Unexplained Files, a series on the Science Channel in the US. Perhaps they’ll offer clues as to if this same music was heard by Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17. Or is that still classified?
Conspiracy people: start your engines. Meanwhile, dig out your Pink Floyd album.