THE sound collected by a spacecraft passing between Saturn and its rings has been beamed back to Earth – and it’s left scientists perplexed.
Nasa’s Cassini spacecraft dived between Saturn and its innermost ring – an area no man-made object has visited before.
Scientists were excited to hear what Cassini had to offer, but were surprised to be met with an eerie silence.
“The region between the rings and Saturn is ‘the big empty,’ apparently,” said Cassini Project Manager Earl Maize of Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
“Cassini will stay the course, while the scientists work on the mystery of why the dust level is much lower than expected.”
The “sounds” of Saturn’s rings are actually particles of dust that can be heard by the spacecraft’s plasma detector.
Back in late 2016, Nasa recorded lots of dust particle noises.
But just months later, the mysterious planet has gone silent.
Instead of crackling, which can be heard in the first minute and 18 seconds in the video above, the April recordings are eerily quiet.
It should be full of popping sounds from dust particles bouncing off each other.
‘A GRAND FINALE’
Dr Daniel Brown, an astronomy expert at Nottingham Trent University, said: “The 13-year Cassini mission is now coming to an end with its grand finale.
“The space probe has revealed many surprises about Saturn and its moons, including further evidence of life-supporting conditions in the ocean below the surface of Enceladus.
“The mission will end with a controlled crash into Saturn in three months’ time, but in the meantime it has started with the first of 22 stunning orbits diving in between Saturn and its rings.
Something which has never been done and is also quite risky.
“As an astronomer, I have been amazed by the rings around Saturn from a young age.
“These dives might just be the thing that can tell us more about how old these rings are and how they work.
“What is particularly interesting is that they are amazingly bright, as if the ice has not been covered by meteorite dust, but we’ll see today what more Cassini tells us.”
Instead, it sounds more like static from a TV screen and an unexplained whistling noise.
Nasa claims the whistling is a type of plasma wave which they will investigate further.
“It was a bit disorienting — we weren’t hearing what we expected to hear,” Cassini scientist William Kurth said.