Mars rover captures first sounds recorded on another planet
NASA's Perseverance rover, which landed on Mars less than a week ago, has rerouted the first audio recordings from the surface of the red planet.
NASA released the audio clips on Monday, as well as never-before-seen video footage of the rover's landing last Thursday and the most sophisticated images of Mars to date.
In addition to 25 cameras on board, the rover also has two microphones. One did not work during the descent of the rover, but the other recorded the sound of the passing Martian wind and the whirring sound of the rover itself.
The audio snippet marks the first sound ever recorded on another planet.
"For those wondering how to land on Mars - or why it is so difficult - or how cool it would be to do this - look no further," said NASA acting administrator Steve Jurczyk.
The rover itself is more pronounced when it is first recorded. In the second case, NASA filtered the audio to make the sounds from Mars clearer.
"Imagine you are sitting on the surface of Mars and listening to the environment," said Dave Gruel, chief engineer for the rover's camera and microphone subsystem, during a press conference. "It's cool. Really neat. Overwhelming, if you will."
Gruel said he was especially passionate about the audio recordings so that people with visual impairment could still feel the same excitement of reaching Mars as those who can view pictures and videos.
Mission team members said Monday that they hope to hear many more sounds from Mars, including wind, storms, falling rocks, and the sound of Perseverance's wheels when they move or their drills when they are in dig the surface of Mars.
Audio can also signal scientists how well stamina is working and potentially identify problems with the rover. However, due to the harsh conditions on Mars, scientists warn that the microphones may not last the duration of the mission.
After seeing Mars, you will hear it. Take your headphones and hear the first noises picked up by one of my microphones. https: //t.co/JswvAWC2IP#CountdownToMars
- NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) February 22, 2021
Thomas Zurbuchen, assistant administrator for NASA's directorate of science missions, said the records were "the most likely landing on Mars without putting on a pressure suit."
Scientists have tried to hear Mars before. Microphones have traveled to the red planet twice - the Mars Polar Lander failed and the microphone on board the Phoenix Lander was never turned on.
In 2018, NASA's Insight Mars Lander recorded unexpectedly similar sounds from Martian wind vibrations with its barometric pressure sensor and seismometer. However, Perseverance captured reality from the surface of Mars using commercially available microphones specially designed for recording audio.
Perseverance will soon be looking for signs of old life in the Jezero crater. And in a decade it should be the first to send samples from the red planet back to Earth.
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