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Matt Russo transforms data from space into a musical album, in collaboration with NASA

Matt Russo

Matt Russo, an astrophysicist and a musician at the University of Toronto, has collaborated with Kimberly Arcand, a visualization scientist at NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to transform visual data into almost musical sequences of sounds. This is part of Matt’s outreach project called SYSTEM Sounds.

Celestial objects in the universe emit light at different wavelengths, both visible and invisible to the human eye. The James Webb Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory capture invisible light, and this data is translated into visible colours to make images. But this data can also be experienced with our ears.

Matt Russo and his team translate image data into sound, a process known as sonification, to let people experience astronomical data in a new way. They use computer programming and music production software to map features of data into features of sound and have created several viral pieces which were heard by billions of people around the world. Their sonifications have also made space data more accessible to those with visual impairments, providing an aesthetic and educational experience of what is usually presented as purely visual information. They are part of a growing community of researchers, educators, and artists who are exploring the universe around us through sound.

More information here: Listen to These Photographs of Sparkling Galaxies | WIRED

Media release here: (NPR, Part 2) (Global radio)