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Mixtape: Space Oddities

by Victoria DeLeone

Keeping an ear out. Photo by Barry Wilmore, courtesy of NASA. 

Everyone's favorite government agency has done it again. I’m not sure how long NASA has been hosting clips of passing comets and presidential speeches on their Soundcloud account. But then, I also didn't know I needed their Soundcloud in my life until last week.

The Great Discovery, as it shall henceforth be called, happened while I was looking for astronaut Instagram accounts to follow (because every feed needs a some extra space on it). Spoiler alert: there aren’t very many. Instead, I found this.

The clips range from the iconic (“One small step for man…”) to the inexplicable (John Marmie’s “Water on the Moon”), and yet there’s something about each one that tugs on the strings that connect my head and my heart.

Perhaps it’s how far the words travel, over distance and time. Maybe it's the simple wonder in listening to a comet pass by a sensor, or the light waves from a star being translated into sound. Even better, maybe it’s the familiarity: famous phrases passed down through the generations, the odd techno-beat of sensor beeps, the emotional resonance in realizing we're infinitesimal beings floating out in space. Most likely, it's a combination of the three: nostalgia, curiosity, empathy.

Refusing to believe that I was alone in my connection to these sounds, I sent them out to a small web of friends. Only one responded.

“What scares you more: that we are alone in the universe, or that we aren't?


Chris Hadfield's rendition of "Space Oddity"
List of NASA social media accounts
10 Things to Know Before You Go to Outer Space

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