In a press conference today at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Mission Juno team played a recording of what it sounds like to get closer than ever to Jupiter. It was a high-pitched, sort of soothing “ooowwweee” drone, and then boom: You hit some sort of sound wall, and it’s suddenly much deeper, a hard, throttling bass. It was like a huge wave crashing over you — which is essentially what’s happening.
Juno isn’t the only one making space sounds, though. Apple Music also had a presence at the press conference, debuting a partnership with NASA. Apple’s created a short documentary, Destination: Jupiter, which features Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton as well as artists Corinne Bailey Rae, Quiñ, and Daye Jack. In the video, the engineer and artists talk about their fascination with space, nature, stars, music, harmony, science, math, more space, and lots more music, all while a track composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross plays.
I’m not sure if NASA and Apple realize this, but they may have accidentally created the best nature-for-stoners experience.
Planetary videos and movies have long been stoner go-tos. If you have even one friend who likes to smoke pot and talk about space, you’ve probably seen this wildly popular YouTube video, which promises to “get you higher than you’ve ever been.”
The Destination: Jupiter documentary presentation was very all-the-space-scenes-from-Contact-meets-a happier-version-of–The Social Network–soundtrack-meets-an-MTV-new-artist-interview — it’s great. It ends and you feel very inspired and excited about the mysteries that Juno might unfold. You start thinking “wait, where did we come from!?” and you get a little freaked out about all this not-knowing and then the lights come on and you’re in a very normal conference room full of people much, much smarter than you who you trust to figure out all the not-knowing.
All of these deep, meaning-of-life questions were covered about an hour before, in a much drier NASA-only press conference. They showed us charts and graphs about the data Juno had already recovered, and illustrated how the spacecraft is going to orbit the planet and capture yet more data in an attempt to figure out exactly how the planet was created. They explained the difficulties of the mission (“Jupiter is a planet on steroids,” was my favorite line of the day).
This was the meat of the day’s events: a few jokes (“We’re looking forward to creating our own fireworks this Fourth of July!” — I love it!), lots of data. But NASA’s mission for years now has been to be a little more approachable, a little softer; a lot cooler. Enter Apple Music: The two teamed up to combine art and technology and science, and to make the idea of exploring space less lofty. The idea is to mix analysis with creativity because “that’s where giant leaps are made,” as Bolton explained. “You need to mix it up. Surround yourself with people who think differently,” which is almost literally Apple’s former tagline.
In the process of mixing it up, NASA inadvertently created the perfect soundtrack and video experience for stoners. Quiñ glides around the screen while ethereal music plays — cut to indescribably beautiful, hypnotizing NASA footage. Daye Jack does this cool motion with his hands while slowly talking about how he has to get his music just right, and then we’re talking about how music’s like math, you know? Cut to the spectacle that is the inside of the Juno control room. It’s all so big and so incomprehensible and oh man this music is lulling me into a state of rapture.
It’s this generation’s Planet Earth. (For the record, no government funds were used for this documentary project.)