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This article was published on October 20, 2021

Hey, space nerd! Here’s what Mars sounds like

NASA's shared a bunch of audio recordings

Hey, space nerd! Here’s what Mars sounds like
Thomas Macaulay
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Thomas Macaulay

Writer at Neural by TNW — Thomas covers AI in all its iterations. Likes Werner Herzog films and Arsenal FC. Writer at Neural by TNW — Thomas covers AI in all its iterations. Likes Werner Herzog films and Arsenal FC.

We’ve long known what Mars looks like, but the Perseverance rover is finally teaching us how it sounds.

The buggy shared the first audio of the Martian surface in February and has gone on to record five hours of the planet’s sounds.

NASA this week released an array of audible delights captured by the six-wheeled spacecraft.

The sounds of gusting winds, rattling wheels, and whirring motors provide a new perspective on Mars. They also play key a role in Perseverance’s science mission.

Perseverance is equipped with two microphones, both of which are off-the-shelf devices. One sits on the buggy’s chassis and listens to the wheels and internal systems of the rover. The other mic is attached to the spacecraft’s mast.

As Perseverance’s laser instrument shoots rocks and studies the resulting plasma, the mast mic records the zaps.

The mic’s position allows it to monitor minute shifts in air that offer insights into the Martian atmosphere.

Perseverance's mast microphone complements the SuperCam laser instrument
The mast microphone complements the SuperCam laser instrument. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The mast mic is also providing clues about how sound propagates on the planet. Some scientists were surprised when it picked up the Ingenuity helicopter’s buzzing rotors, because high-pitched sounds are hard to hear through Mars’ thin atmosphere.

“Sound on Mars carries much farther than we thought,’ said Nina Lanza, a SuperCam scientist, in a statement. “It shows you just how important it is to do field science.”

The Perseverance rover's microphones are similar to these off-the-shelf devices.
Perseverance’s microphones are similar to these off-the-shelf devices. Credit: DPA

As well as supporting scientists, the recordings can give us all new ways to experience the red planet.

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