Hear NASA’s sea shanty about heliophysics and the solar wind

Hear NASA's sea shanty about heliophysics and the solar wind

NASA astronaut Jack Fischer snapped this aurora image from the ISS in 2017. Thank the solar wind.


NASA

Merchant sailors (and music fans from modern day) have been singing traditional shanties about life on the waves since at least the early 19th century. But you don’t need a big body of water to make a sea shanty. Space will do nicely, too. 

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center research laboratory delivered a sea shanty about heliophysics and the solar wind set to the classic song The Wellerman. The video features a group of socially distanced science singers chanting lines like “we’ll take our leave and go” and “and the solar wind will blow.”

The shanty explains how the solar wind impacts Earth. “The solar wind is a constant outflow of magnetized material released by the Sun and causes a cascade of effects on space and Earth,” NASA said. “The most visible of these from our planet is the aurora borealis, displays of colorful light in the sky that provide a stunning example of the sun-Earth connection.”

The full refrain goes “soon may the solar wind come/to bring us plasma and magnetism/filled with hydrogen and helium/and the solar wind will blow.” 

While some music historians will argue The Wellerman isn’t a real sea shanty, it’s been embraced as part of the TikTok sea shanty lore. And now it’s the musical backbone for NASA’s contribution to the overlooked genre of space shanties. Hyuh!

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