TORONTO – Thanks to the Persistence rover for the first time, humans are able to hear sounds being generated on Mars.

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released by NASA Description of microphone This week the rover was installed on the spacecraft, along with a video containing several sound clips. longer version of the clip The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is available on the website.

About five hours of wind gusts, the sounds of the motor and the wheels of the rover passing through the ground beneath them have been recorded. Sounds give scientists a new dimension through which to observe the Red Planet.


“It looks like you’re really standing there,” Baptiste Chaide, a planetary scientist who studies data from microphones at L’Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planetology in France, said on the NASA website. “Martian sounds have strong bass vibrations, so when you put on headphones, you can really feel it. I think microphones will be an important asset for future Mars and solar system science.”

The six-wheeled rover has two microphones, one on the port side and the other on its mast as part of the Supercam instrument. SuperCam studies the rocks and soil with a laser before analyzing the resulting vapor with a camera.

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Those laser zaps have also been caught on the microphone, with more than 25,000 recorded.

Some sounds can also help analyze changes in the planet’s atmosphere. The microphone on the mast can work with the rover’s wind sensor to monitor minute shifts in the wind, also known as micro turbulence.

“From a meteorologist’s point of view, each approach – detail and context – complements each other,” said José Rodriguez-Manfredi of the Centro de Astrobiology at the Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aerospatiale in Madrid.

The atmosphere on Mars is much less dense than on Earth, which means it will be difficult to hear loud sounds. But scientists were apparently surprised when the buzz of Ingenuity’s rotors was picked up during one of its flights from 80 meters away. The Ingenuity is a small robotic helicopter assigned to help with Perseverance’s mission.

Researchers led by Helicopter Audio detail two of the three models that have been developed for how sound propagates on Mars.

“Sound on Mars is far more distant than we thought,” said Nina Lanza, a SuperCam scientist who worked with the microphone data. “It shows you how important it is to do field science.”

Another thing sound might be able to help with is the maintenance on persistence. The microphone can help engineers hear problems just as a mechanic can hear a faulty car engine.

The Persistence team is in the process of collecting a large number of recordings so that they can be better able to detect changes in the rover’s systems over time.