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Tuning in the Sounds of Space
04.02.07
 
Who are NASA's Space Science Explorers?

Who are NASA's Space Science Explorers? The scientist studying black holes in space. The teacher talking about the secrets of the cosmos. And the student asking if there is life away from Earth. All of these people are Space Science Explorers. They are all curious about our solar system and space. This is a story about a NASA Space Science Explorer.

Wanda Diaz helps a student read a book that is written in Braille
What does a radio have to do with space?

Many things in space give off radio waves. Instead of using a radio, scientists use special telescopes to change the waves to sound. These are called radio telescopes.

Image to right: Wanda Diaz teaches an astronomy class for blind students at the University of Puerto Rico. Credit: Wanda Diaz

You might be surprised by what sounds from space are like. Sometimes they sound like ocean waves or like popcorn popping. They can even sound like a hissing snake.

Pictures, numbers and words are important to scientists. But scientists also like to have information they can listen to. Sounds are especially important for people who are blind, like Wanda Diaz.

Wanda is a student at the University of Puerto Rico. She studies space by listening to radio waves. She does this through a NASA project called Radio JOVE. The project includes a kit that has the parts needed to make a radio telescope.

Besides studying space herself, Wanda teaches younger students how to build and use radio telescopes. She says it's fun for students.

  Related Resources
+ Previous Space Science Explorers articles

+ Radio JOVE
"They listen to the data, and have lots of fun doing it," Wanda said.

Like many students, Wanda has had to overcome a challenge. She didn't let being blind stop her from being a scientist. She tells students not to give up on their dreams, no matter what.

"I tell them that ... nothing is impossible," she said.

 
 
Prachi Patel, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies

Adapted for grades K-4 audience by Dan Stillman, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies