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Sounds From Space, Recorded By An Astronaut

Jan 13, 2013
Originally published on January 13, 2013 7:25 pm
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Let's move from exploring the depths of the ocean to orbiting the Earth's thermosphere. Have you ever wondered what life in outer space actually sounds like? Well, as it turns out, it's really pretty noisy.


LYDEN: That's ambient noise - roaring fans and air pumps - aboard the International Space Station recorded by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. We didn't ask the astronaut to record anything, but he has the makings of a fine NPR producer.

Since arriving at the satellite a few weeks ago, he's kept his 200,000-plus Twitter followers up-to-date with a constant stream of information: stunning photos of the Earth, tweets to William Shatner and sound recordings of everyday life aboard the satellite, no detail too small for Hadfield. He's even filled us in on the whoosh of a space toilet.



LYDEN: And that's the vroom of a vacuum helping move things along. Hadfield doesn't just vacuum up sounds. He makes them. Here he is strumming and singing a ditty.

CHRIS HADFIELD: "Jewel in the Night," the first recording from Space Station.

LYDEN: That he wrote with his brother about this cool, little planet.


HADFIELD: (Singing) So bright jewel in the night...

The favorite past time of astronauts is looking at the world out the window. It is so fundamentally beautiful and mesmerizing.

LYDEN: Poet-philosopher, I mean, astronaut Hadfield spoke this week at a press conference beamed down to Earth, and he reflected on the serenity of an image of Syria he took from Space.

HADFIELD: To go around the world in just slightly over 90 minutes, the world just unrolls itself for you, and you see it absolutely discreetly as one place. And so when we do look down on a place that is currently in great turmoil or strife, it's hard to reconcile the inherent patience and beauty of the world with the terrible things that we can do to each other.

And that's part of the reason that we work so hard to communicate what we're doing up here, is to try and just give people a little glimpse at the fact that we're all in this together.

LYDEN: And for most of us, following Chris Hadfield's tweets, listening to his recordings and seeing his photographs is our best way of getting into space.


HADFIELD: (Singing) With all of our cities aglow... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.