Space is a vacuum, meaning it’s also a very quiet place to be because sound has nothing to travel through. So you probably expect the International Space Station (ISS) to be a very quiet environment from which to look down on the Earth. But you’d be wrong.
The sound recording you can listen to below is what you would hear if located on the ISS. It was recorded by astronaut Chris Hadfield and represents the constant ambient background noise present there.
It’s really noisy, but also very necessary, as what you are hearing is the pumps and fans that keep the breathable air circulating around the station. Without it the ISS would certainly be a much quieter place, but also one devoid of life.
Now imagine having that sound as a constant background noise for weeks before returning to Earth. That’s got to mess with your hearing and take some time to adjust to.
Hadfield arrived at the ISS on December 20 aboard the Soyuz capsule along with astronaut Tom Marshburn and cosmonaut Roman Romanenko. He says that the ISS is generally noisy, but the noisiest location has to be the toilet. If you want some relative peace and quiet, then the sleep capsules are apparently the best place to go and he’s managed to record some music while in one.
Hadfield also explained on his Twitter feed that the ISS is pressurized to sea level. This is done to make it a more natural environment for the astronauts, but the thicker air also helps keep the machines and other equipment on board cool.
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