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Nasa releases first ever audio recording of Mars taken from Perseverance rover

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 24 February 2021 09:43 GMT
Mars rover sends sounds from surface of Red Planet
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Nasa has released the first ever direct audio recordings of the sounds of Mars.

They allow people to hear the red planet’s winds as they whip past the rover, soon after it had dropped onto the surface.

The sounds of the Perseverance rover can also be heard in the recordings, as it fings its place in the Martian soil.

Nasa had hoped to capture sound as the rover made its perilous landing on the surface, but said the audio captures was “unusable”.

The microphone attached to the rover – a commercial, off-the-shelf piece of equipment – did however survive the landing and has recorded audio from the surface itself.

Those sounds have now been revealed, alongside “awe-inspiring” video of the rover’s landing.

The audio lasts about 60-seconds and Nasa has released versions that include just the breeze as well as the noise the rover captured of itself on the surface.

While the new recordings sound similar to how the wind and a robot might on Earth, sound actually behaves differently on Mars. The different atmosphere affects the ways that sound travels.

The chief difference is that high pitch sounds – such as whistles or birds – would not be audible on the planet, as a result of the fact that the heavily carbon dioxide atmosphere would absorb them. Sounds would also generally be quieter because of the less dense atmosphere, and the speed of sound is also slower.

While the new recordings come from the experimental microphone that was fitted with the aim of just seeing how the landing and Mars might sound, the Perseverance rover is also carrying another more science-focused one.

That is mounted on the SuperCam instrument, on top of Perseverance’s mast. SuperCam fires lasers at distant rocks in an attempt to understand what they are made of – the microphone will listen for the sounds of the laser hitting those rocks, which might provide information about how hard they are or what they are made of.

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