About 43 years ago, I began my electrical engineering career working for the Space and Communications Division of Hughes Aircraft, in El Segundo, CA. I was working on my Masters in Electrical Engineering at UCLA, and was fortunate to be assigned to the Galileo mission to Jupiter, a NASA project. I worked on the project for nearly 4 years. It was a very interesting project. An ‘orbiter’ flew to Jupiter, and dropped off the Galileo Probe which descended into the atmosphere of Jupiter. The probe captured scientific measurements, and sent the data to the orbiter. The orbiter relayed the data back to Earth. The transmitter power was equivalent to a 50 watt bulb. A tiny signal that travelled across our solar system. My part of the project was to implement and test a ‘receiver’ that captured the data from the probe, and prepared that data to be sent to earth.
These space missions span large distances, and involve long time periods. The launch occurred in October 18, 1989, and took six years to get to Jupiter. The probe was released to descend into Jupiter on December 7, 1995 (Six years of space travel over 2.8 billion miles.) As the probe entered the thick atmosphere, it was travelling at Mach 50, and experienced 228 g’s of deceleration. The 97-mile descent lasted only 58 minutes.
Data was collected during this short period, and was relayed back to earth. Jupiter is so far away from Earth, that by the time the data began to arrive ‘back home,’ the 58-minute mission was over. So, if something went wrong during the mission, by the time mission control knew, it would be too late to do anything about it. Fortunately, it all worked and no data was lost.
You might wonder: what does all this have to do with music?
While living in California, and working on the Galileo relay receiver, I began studying choral conducting, and leading a small choir, and directing a singing group. Kathy and I became acquainted with Doc Gary Bonner and his choral conducting style. Our little groups began sending out ‘waves of praise.’ By the time the Galileo mission was completed, I had taken a job with Motorola in Scottsdale, AZ. Five years after the probe mission was completed, we started East Valley Chorale.
In a recent article published in Fox News in January 2021 (“Strange FM signal discovered coming from one of Jupiter’s moons”) , an interesting follow up to the mission was presented. After studying the data from the mission, some interesting signals were detected in 2018. To quote the story:
According to NASA, the decametric radio waves have frequencies between 10 and 40 MHz, but never above 40 MHz. “Electrons spiraling in Jupiter’s magnetic field are thought to be the cause of the radio noise we hear,” the space agency added.
Scientists have known about radio waves on Jupiter since the mid-1950s, but this is the first time the phenomenon has ever been seen emanating from Ganymede.
The findings were recently published in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters.
While notable, this is not the first time scientists have discovered strange occurrences on Ganymede. In 2018, researchers observed “extraordinary” electromagnetic waves, also known as “chorus waves,” thanks to the Galileo Probe spacecraft.
So, it turns out that the heavens really are proclaiming the glory of God, as stated in Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” These chorus waves are spreading across the universe, proclaiming the greatness of our God. We started the East Valley Chorale in 1999, but little did we realize that our voices were part of something much larger than our group. The chorale, like every choir that exalts the Lord, is joining with all nature to produce a song of Intergalactic Praise.
The first few verses of Psalm 8 paint a wonderful picture.
Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens….When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
It was not really necessary to spend $1.3B and travel 2.8 billion miles to find out that the universe is praising God. Thousands of years ago, the psalmist, David, told us that. So, the next time you hear, or sing How Great Thou Art, I hope you will think about the fact that you’re singing along with an intergalactic praise team.
O Lord my God,
When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds
Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout
the universe displayed.
Photos by NASA.