Science

Hear the sounds of Mars captured by NASA’s Perseverance rover

After the Perseverance mission collected five hours of sounds on Mars, engineers are beginning to get an idea of ​​how the Red Planet sounds different from Earth.

NASA now has a website that is filled with Martian audio, ranging from gusts of wind to the sounds of a rover driving as it searches for places to look for signs of life on the Red Planet. In March, we even heard the “click” of his laser (sadly, no bench noise was evident).

“It’s like you’re really standing there,” Baptiste Chide, a planetary scientist who studies data from Perseverance microphones, said in a statement from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

“Martian sounds have strong bass vibrations, so when you put headphones on, you can really feel it. I think the microphones will be an important asset for future science on Mars and the solar system,” added Chide, who works at the French Astrophysics Research Institute. and Planetology.

Related: Mars Helicopter Ingenuity Detects Perseverance Rover From Air (Photo)

A “selfie” of the Perseverance rover, which landed on February 18, 2021. (Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS)

Perseverance carries two microphones with it. Its entry, descent and landing camera system includes a standard commercial microphone built by the Danish company DPA Microphones. Rover engineers still use the microphone to capture sounds on the surface, along with the second microphone – another ready-to-use device built into their SuperCam instrument that vibrates rocks.

The SuperCam microphones have been especially helpful for JPL to learn more about the environment in Jezero Crater, where Perseverance has been roaming for about seven Earth months.

“Some of those recordings are teaching scientists about changes in the planet’s atmosphere – after all, sound travels through vibrations in the air,” JPL said.

“From its position on the Perseverance mast, the SuperCam microphone is ideally positioned to monitor ‘microturbulence’ (minimal changes in air) and complements the rover’s dedicated wind sensors, which are part of an atmospheric toolkit called MEDA. , short for Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer. “

MEDA sensors are designed to collect samples once or twice a second for up to two hours at a time, collecting information on wind speed, pressure, and temperature. On the other hand, SuperCam can record data at a speed of 20,000 times per second, but in a much shorter period of time of a few minutes, JPL noted.

“It’s like comparing a magnifying glass with a microscope with 100x magnification,” José Rodríguez-Manfredi, principal investigator for MEDA and part of Spain’s National Institute of Aerospace Technology, said in the same statement from JPL. “From a meteorological scientist’s point of view, every perspective, detail and context complements each other.”

A big surprise from the mission was when Perseverance was able to hear the sound of the Ingenuity drone’s rotors humming on April 30 from a distance of 262 feet (80 meters) away. The Martian atmosphere is much less dense than Earth’s, and consequently scientists weren’t sure they could hear high-pitched sounds.

Audio has been useful for research ranging from how sound propagates on Mars to keeping Perseverance in good shape (in a similar way to listening to a car engine for signs of trouble).

“We routinely hear changes in sound patterns in our test rover here on Earth, which may indicate that there is an issue that needs attention,” said Vandi Verma, Perseverance chief engineer for robotic operations at JPL, in the same statement. .

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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