NASA’s Perseverance rover is currently whipping through deep space on its journey to Mars, where it will arrive in approximately three months. But if you want to check in on the rover, then NASA has a new way for you to do that — you can hear a clip of the audio picked up by its onboard microphone as it cruises through space at 26,000 mph.
Perseverance is the first rover to have a microphone aboard, and engineers collected a 60-second audio clip of what it picked up on October 19. You can listen either on SoundCloud or using the embedded link above.
The hissing sound you can hear is the rover’s heat rejection fluid pump, which maintains the rover’s temperature by passing fluid through a heat exchanger. Although sound can’t travel in the vacuum of space, mechanical vibrations can be transferred through the solid body of the rover and be picked up as an electrical signal.
The microphone is included as an experimental attempt to capture audio of the entry, descent, and landing (EDL) sequence when the rover arrives at Mars.
“As great as it is to pick up a little audio on spacecraft operations in-flight, the sound file has a more important meaning,” said Dave Gruel, lead engineer for Mars 2020’s EDL Camera and Microphone subsystem in a statement. “It means that our system is working and ready to try to record some of the sound and fury of a Mars landing.”
As this is the first time a microphone has been included on a rover (although not the first time the sounds of Mars have been recorded), the engineers aren’t sure if or how much of the landing sequence it will be able to pick up. But they are hoping for the best.
“Getting sound from landing is a nice-to-have, not a need-to-have,” said Gruel. “If it doesn’t happen, it will not impede the rover’s mission of discovery at Jezero Crater one bit. If even a portion of the landing sequence is captured on audio, that would be awesome.”
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