Since it landed on the red planet in November of last year, NASA’s InSight mission has successfully detected more than 100 events, of which about 20 are considered earthquakes or Marsquakes.
Although InSight remains in the same position on Mars that it landed in November of last year, the lander has offered us unprecedented insight into Mars. The lander has spent almost a year on the Martian surface. So far, the mission has rewarded us with various symphonic sounds on Mars.
NASA has captured – thanks to the spacecraft’s exquisitely sensitive seismometer – a series of “curious sounds” on Mars, as heard in some of the audio recordings that were recently published by NASA. The Instrument called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) was built to pick up different vibrations that may appear subtly as a simple breeze on Mars.
Some of the sounds captured by the InSight mission correspond to Marsquakes and wind gusts on Mars. The sounds have been modified and adjusted by scientists so that the human ear can hear them.
InSight’s seismograph is capable of recording sound waves such as those produced by gusts of wind or even by the movements of the robotic arm of the probe and other mechanical tools.
Never before were scientists able to hear what’s going on Mars. Numerous past rover missions have offered an unprecedented view of the Martian landscape. But up until InSight made its way to the surface of Mars, we weren’t really able to hear what Mars sounds like.
“It’s been exciting, especially in the beginning, hearing the first vibrations from the lander,” said Constantinos Charalambous, an InSight science team member at Imperial College London who works with the SP sensors. “You’re imagining what’s really happening on Mars as InSight sits on the open landscape.”
Most of the data InSight was sent to gather is related to quakes. Unlike on Earth, Marsquakes are caused by the cooling and contraction, which results in stress fractures on the Martian Crust. Since Mars has a cratered surface, quakes on the red planet can persist for about a minute.
In comparison, quakes on Earth last for seconds at a time.
During the day, InSight’s different parts are in movement. They also produce sounds. In addition to that, the seismometer also picks up wind gusts. This means that to hunt for quakes, researchers listen for changes in the instruments during the night.
In addition to hearing quakes and wind gusts on Mars, the InSight instruments have picked up a series of strange changes. In one of the recordings, a weird whistling noise can be heard coming from Mars’s surface. Although scientists don’t know exactly what causes it, they believe the noise was produced due to interference with the seismometer’s electronics.
The InSight lander has also recorded its own unique sounds. Researchers at NASA refer to them as dinks and donks, and these peculiar sounds are caused due to the expansion and contraction of the various parts inside the seismometer. These changes within the instrument are most likely caused due to heat loss.
Eerie sounds on Mars
Check out some of the strangest noises picked up by InSight on Mars here below.
Here’s the first quake on Mars recorded by the InSight lander (at the start of the recording; what you will hear is the wind on Mars):
This is the recording of another quake on Mars:
Here’s another noise picked up on Sol 235 on Mars:
Here are some of the sounds that the lander produces when it is working on the surface of Mars:
And in this recording below, you can hear the various “dinks and dongs” the lander produces:
Here is an extra recording. In the audio track below, you’ll hear sounds from InSight’s Pressure Sensor on Mars:
NASA’s InSight is a two-year mission set to explore one of the red planet’s lesser-known parts: its mysterious interior. The mission’s many instruments are set to offer unprecedented data on the red planet’s surface and interior.
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