Data and Music: What 50 Years of Exploring Our Moon Sounds Like

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Sonification is the process of translating data into sound and music. In this musical data sonification of lunar knowledge and exploration, we can hear the progress made throughout the Apollo program to now as our understanding of the Moon expands. Listen to the percussion, which signals launches and the passage of time; the pitch of the string and brass instruments conveys the amount of scientific activity associated with the Moon over time.
Here’s a breakdown of the individual instruments:
Pitch of the string and brass = scientific activity
Percussion instruments = passage of time
Clock ticking = months
Snare drum = years
Bass drum = decades
Cymbals = launches
In the video, the blue line indicates the amount of scientific activity (the number of scientific publications, citations and patents) in each year that is related to NASA’s Apollo program. The red and yellow lines indicate the amount of scientific activity associated with Apollo samples and Apollo images, respectively. The other colors indicate the amount of scientific activity associated with each of NASA’s lunar robotic missions.
Each year's data represents the number of articles, citations and patents dated in that year and returned by Google Scholar when applying a certain set of keywords.
This video is a part of the NASA Explorers: Apollo audio series, which you can find here:
Credit: SYSTEM Sounds
Data sonification and visualization by Matt Russo and Andrew Santaguida of SYSTEM Sounds. Data compiled by NASA.
Music credits: "Giant Leaps" by SYSTEM Sounds
This video is public domain and along with other supporting visualizations can be downloaded from the Scientific Visualization Studio at:
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Category
Science

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