NASA has spent years navigating Jupiter to understand the origin and evolution of our solar system’s largest planet. The researchers collecting radio waves from Ganymede made a surprising find their recording of Jupiter’s largest moon, when adapted to human ears, sounds like R2-D2.
The Juno mission, which launched in August 2011, arrived at Jupiter in July 2016. The Juno spacecraft has completed dozens of orbits around the planet, and on June 7, it flew closer to Jupiter’s largest moon than any other in more than 20 years, coming within 645 miles of the moon’s surface.
Scott Bolton, the principal investigator of the Juno mission, debuted the audio track at the American Geophysical Union fall meeting in New Orleans on Friday. The lead author of the study said that it’s possible the change in frequency is “due to passing from the nightside to the dayside of the moon. Ganymede, which is bigger than the planet Mercury and the dwarf planet Pluto, is believed to have an underground saltwater ocean, and is thought to have more water than all the water on Earth’s surface.