NASA’s Mars Sounds Open Up a Whole New World for Scientists

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

This week, the team overseeing the mission released a collection of audio recordings Perseverance has collected since its arrival on Mars in February. You can listen to them in the video below. For the best experience, NASA recommends putting on headphones before pressing the play button.

Perseverance is equipped with two commercially available microphones, one on the chassis of the rover and the other on the SuperCam at the end of the vehicle’s mast.

The recordings include the sound of wind on Mars, giving Mars fans an audio experience that matches existing images of dust devils and dust storms collected by Perseverance and other Mars rovers such as Curiosity.

We also hear the sound of Perseverance riding across the surface of Mars. Prepare yourself – it sounds nothing like your own car, or someone else’s, for that matter. Instead, we hear a sort of “thumping, squeaking” sound as the rover’s six metal wheels roll slowly over the planet’s rocks and sand.

The video also features the sound of Perseverance’s SuperCam laser-zapping rocks. The sound is emitted when the laser hits the rock, where scientists can use the audio to learn more about a rock’s properties. So far, the SuperCam microphone has made more than 25,000 laser recordings, giving scientists plenty of data to sift through.

Finally, check out the deep buzzing sound of NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter flying over Mars. Captured by Perseverance from a distance of 262 feet (80 meters) during the plane’s fourth flight in April, scientists believed Mars’ thin atmosphere would prevent the high-pitched sound from reaching the microphone. But they were surprised to receive a decent recording showing that the Martian atmosphere is capable of dispersing sound much better than originally thought.

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

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