NASA Recording Shows What “Mars Sounds” Sounds Like

NASA Recording Shows What "Mars Sounds" Sounds Like
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    To draw conclusions

Research knows a lot about Mars, but what exactly is the Red Planet like? The NASA rover “Perseverance” and two commercially available microphones show this.

Pasadena/Frankfurt – Mars is dry, dusty, windy and not a pleasant place for people. Space exploration knows so much. But what does it actually feel like to be on the Red Planet? What noise can you hear there? How do sounds propagate in the thin atmosphere of Mars? For a long time, research was unable to answer these questions – and inadvertently sent microphones to Mars. Two commercially available microphones were installed in the NASA rover “Perseverance”. One microphone was attached to the chassis of the rover, the second microphone is located on the mast of the “Persistence”, on which the so-called “Supercam” is also located.

NASA’s rover, which landed on Mars in February 2021, has now captured the “sound of Mars” for nearly five hours and sent the images to Earth. You can hear gusts of wind, metal rover wheels moving on rocky ground, or motors moving the rover’s arm.

“It’s like standing there myself”, NASA quoted in a press release by planetary scientist Baptiste Chaide, who is examining the recordings at the French L’Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planetology. “Martian sounds have strong bass vibrations, so you can really feel them when you put on the headphones,” explains Chaide.

NASA shows the sound of Mars: what does the Red Planet really sound like?

But researchers are not only interested in hearing sounds on Mars – they may also gain new knowledge from these sounds. How do sounds propagate in the Martian atmosphere? The tiny “Ingenuity” helicopter, which arrived at Mars with the rover “Perseverance” and has since flown several times over the surface of Mars, helped researchers answer this question.

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The rover microphone captured the noise of the helicopter’s rotor on its fourth flight on April 30 and allowed researchers to exclude two out of three models of noise propagation on Mars, according to NASA.

As reported by NASA, the mere fact that microphones were able to record the Mars helicopter’s rotor noise apparently took some researchers by surprise. They assumed that high pitches would hardly be heard in the very thin Martian atmosphere.

NASA rover “Perseverance”: Microphone suggests atmosphere of Mars

An activity from the Mars rover has even taken researchers a step further: “Perseverance” shoots a laser at stones to analyze evaporation with a camera. Microphones have already recorded more than 25,000 of these laser shots and also provide new knowledge to researchers. Some of the images allow scientists to conclude that there are so-called “micro disturbances” – short-term changes in the atmosphere of Mars.

But what conclusions have the researchers now drawn when it comes to the “sound of Mars”? “Sound on Mars carries us farther than we thought,” explains “Supercam” scientist Nina Lanza. “It shows how important it is to do field research.”

NASA has installed two microphones on the Mars rover “Perseverance”: one on the chassis and one on the rover’s mast.

© NASA/JPL

The sound of Mars will help NASA with rover maintenance

The noise that microphones record on Mars has a very practical side effect for teams on Earth in addition to all the science: if enough data is collected in the future, the noise from the Mars rover should be used for maintenance. According to NASA, the microphones on the chassis are in a good position to pick up noise from tires and other systems.

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In the US space agency, the project is compared to a mechanic who listens to a car engine to find faults. “We want to hear these noises regularly, and emphasize that people on Earth are already on the test rover’s side,” explains Vandi Varma, “Perseverance” chief engineer for robotic operations at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Changes in noise patterns”. To identify problems early to avoid them.

NASA rover “Perseverance” should send samples of Mars soil to Earth

The rover “Perseverance” has the big task of finding signs of past microbiological life. He will also depict the geology and earlier climate of the Red Planet and prepare for future human exploration of Mars with technology demonstrations such as the “Ingenuity” helicopter or the “MOXI” experiment. Another important function of the rover is to collect suitable soil samples and store them for subsequent Mars missions. In the future, a joint mission by NASA and the European Space Organization (ESA) is to bring the samples back to Earth, where they will be examined by humans.

The Mars rover “Perseverance” recently made an important observation: Even before it steered away from its landing site for the first time, it sent evidence to Earth that Jezero Crater was once a lake that was fed by a river. (tab)

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