Solar-powered balloons hovering at an altitude of 20 kilometers have recorded mysterious infrasound signals, the origin of which is still unknown, reports cnn.com.
The researchers measured the data using makeshift balloons that hovered in the stratosphere for hours, carrying sensors for hundreds of kilometers.
The collected data showed that the stratosphere sounds very different from the surface of the Earth, and many infrasound signals have no obvious origin.
“When we started flying in hot air balloons years ago, we didn’t know what we were going to hear,” says Daniel Bowman of the Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.
“We have learned to recognize the sounds of explosions, meteorite falls, airplanes, thunderstorms and cities. But every time we launch balloons, we hear sounds that cannot be identified.”
Some experts speculate that these signals may be related to geophysical events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or even cosmic events such as solar storms and geomagnetic storms. However, no evidence has yet been found to support these theories.
In the stratosphere, “there are mysterious infrasound signals that occur a few times per hour on some flights, but the source of these is completely unknown,” Bowman said.
Bowman and Albert will continue to investigate the aerial sound channel and try to determine where the stratosphere’s rumbles are originating — and why some flights record them while others don’t.
Infrasounds in the stratosphere have rarely been studied before, so it is difficult to make educated guesses. The researchers note that one of the first balloon studies of this kind was a US Air Force experiment codenamed Project Mogul in the 1940s. The aim of the project was to detect infrasound signals from nuclear weapons tests in the Soviet Union.
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