NASA’s Mars sounds open up whole new world for scientists

Perseverance is the first Mars rover to include microphones, an advancement that’s opened up a whole new world of discovery for NASA scientists keen to learn more about the distant planet.

This week, the team overseeing the mission released a collection of audio recordings gathered by Perseverance since its arrival on Mars in February. You can listen to them in the video below. For the best experience, NASA recommends you stick a pair of headphones in before hitting the play button.

Perseverance is fitted with two commercially available, off-the-shelf microphones: one on the rover’s chassis and the other on its SuperCam, located at the end of the vehicle’s mast.

The recordings include the sound of wind on Mars, giving Mars fans an audio experience. This goes along with existing images of dust devils and dust storms collected by Perseverance and other Mars rovers, including Curiosity.

We also hear the sound of Perseverance driving across the martian surface. Prepare yourself; it sounds nothing like your own car — or anyone else’s, for that matter. Instead, we hear a kind of “clanky, squeaky” sound as the rover’s six metal wheels trundle slowly over the planet’s rocks and sand.

The video also includes the sound of Perseverance’s SuperCam laser zapping rocks. The noise is emitted when the laser strikes the rock, with scientists able to use the audio to find out more about a rock’s properties. So far, the SuperCam microphone has recorded more than 25,000 laser shots, giving scientists plenty of data to sift through.

Finally, check out the deep humming sound of NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter taking flight on Mars. Captured by Perseverance from a distance of 262 feet (80 meters) during the aircraft’s fourth flight in April, scientists believed Mars’ thin atmosphere would prevent the high-pitched noise from reaching the microphone. They were surprised instead to receive a decent recording that appears to show the martian atmosphere is able to propagate sound much better than originally thought.

Commenting on the collection of audio recordings, Nina Lanza of the Los Alamos National Laboratory says in the video: “We’ve all seen these beautiful images that we get from Mars, but having sound to be able to add to those images makes me feel like I’m almost right there on the surface.”

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