January 09, 2014
The latest tool for checking space weather is an internet radio station fed by data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO.
The radio station essentially operates in real time, receiving measurements of how much radiation the spacecraft is experiencing and converting those into a constant stream of music. The radiation levels determine which instrument is featured, the musical key being used and the pitches played.
“Our minds love music, so this offers a pleasurable way to interface with the data,” said the leader of the music project, Marty Quinn of the University of New Hampshire, Durham. “It also provides accessibility for people with visual impairments.”
The radiation levels are determined by LRO’s Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation, or CRaTER. Equipped with six detectors, CRaTER monitors the energetic charged particles from galactic cosmic rays and solar events.
The instrument makes two kinds of crucial measurements. One type studies the interaction of radiation in space with a material that is like human tissue; this is helping scientists assess the effects that exposure would have on people and organisms. The other type looks at radiation hitting the moon and the products generated by that interaction, which provides a way to explore the composition of the regolith on the moon.
image credit: NASA GSFC