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Out of the Blue

Bone-Rumbling Sound

The Artemis I rocket blasts off from the ground with a burst of fire and lots of smoke and sound.
Photo by Joel Kowsky/NASA

“You just watch this rocket silently rising into the sky, and you’re waiting and waiting and finally the sound arrives,” says BYU physics professor Kent L. Gee (BS ’01, MS ’02). He and four students placed microphones at 14 different locations ranging from 1.5 to 20 kilometers from the launchpad of NASA’s Artemis I moon rocket (pictured) to gather data on the effects of the loudest rocket launch in history.

At 5 kilometers away, the sound with its snaps and pops was like “40 million bowls of crackling Rice Krispies,” not accounting for the inaudible low-hertz waves that manifest as a “rumble in your bones.” With BYU’s new data, physicists will be able to predict the effects of rocket launch sounds on people and wildlife more accurately.