Strange Sounds Heard 36km Above Surface of Earth

Strange sounds, whistles and crackles have been heard 36 kilometers (22 miles) above the Earth’s surface

“It sounded kind of like ‘The X-files’,” said Daniel Bowman, who constructed the equipment and made the records. This sounds are known as atmospheric infrasound and the frequency is too low (below 20 herthz), so human ear cannot hear them.

NASA is not sure, what is the origin of these strange sounds, so they are planning to send microphones up into this region of near space for eavesdropping. Listen to the original recording below.

Daniel is a graduate student from the University of North Carolina. He hopes, that his recording will encourage more people to start listening to atmospheric infrasound again, because the last experiment that focused on these strange sounds occurred in the 1960s. Since then, strange sounds has been forgotten.

“There haven’t been acoustic recordings in the stratosphere for 50 years. Surely, if we place instruments up there, we will find things we haven’t seen before,” says Bowman.

strange sounds

photo credit: Spectrogram of infrasound recorded during the balloon flight. Daniel Bowman/NASA

The microphones he created were attached to NASA’s High Altitude Student Platform (HASP). The large helium balloon in an annual NASA project in which students can design experiments to be sent up into near space – region of the atmosphere above the altitude at which planes fly but below the limit of stratosphere at 100 km (62 miles) up. 

Because these strange sounds have low frequency, they can carry for a long distances. They can be created by all sorts of natural events, such as earthquakes, volcanoes or thunderstorms. Some scientists even believe, that these strange sounds can be a way how to monitor weather


It might not be coded message from from aliens or robots, the answer what causes the strange sounds might be closer to the Earth. Best guesses so far are signals from wind farms, ocean waves crashing or wind turbulence. NASA is very interested in thee strange sounds, in fact, they are planning to send more recording devices up there this year.


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Michaela Miklusak

Michaela Miklusak is deputy editor of and big technology enthusiast. Michaela now lives in Singapore, where she studies System Engineering and Informatics.

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