NASA’s Perseverance rover team has published a new audio recording obtained using onboard microphones – the rover was able to record the roar of the propellers of the first extraterrestrial drone, Ingenuity, during its fourth experimental flight last week.
This is the first time in history that a rover records the sound of a different spacecraft on another planet.
Perseverance became the first spacecraft on Mars to actively use microphones during planetary exploration. Before this mission, similar devices were part of two automatic stations, but the Mars Polar Lander crashed, and the Phoenix Mars Lander had problems with electronics.
In total, there are two microphones onboard the rover (one in the SuperCam instrument, and the other mounted on the side of the rover). Previously, they recorded the laser clicks on the rocks and the sounds of the rover driving.
After the start of the flights of the unmanned helicopter Ingenuity, specialists wanted to try to record the sounds of its propellers but were not sure that the rover, located 80 meters from the place of takeoff and landing of the helicopter, would be able to pick up the sound.
However, they still managed to do so using the SuperCam microphone when the drone made its fourth flight on April 30, 2021. It still is a fairly quiet recording but it is still incredible that the rover managed to record it with the interference of the Martian atmosphere.
You can hear the incredible audio in the video below which was captured by the Perseverance rover. The audio recording was processed in order to distinguish the sounds of the propellers at a frequency of 84 hertz against the background of ambient sounds (mainly wind noise) – sounds with other frequencies were cut off or muted.
The hum of the Ingenuity helicopter is most clearly heard when it is in the field of view of the rover’s camera tracking the flight.
It also should be noted that Perseverance’s videos are only getting better with each new flight. They really look like real complete videos although we know that these are composed of many images taken by the rover.
Since its inception on Mars and before the fifth flight that was completed yesterday, Ingenuity had flown four times in the rarefied local atmosphere. It covered a distance of 266 meters in just a couple of minutes of flight time and climbed to a height of 5 meters, working in autonomous mode.
For flights, the drone uses two coaxial propellers with a diameter of 1.2 meters each, it is powered by a solar panel, and it uses two cameras for navigation and terrain reconnaissance.
It should be noted that NASA officially extended the program and Ingenuity will continue flying on Mars until the end of August. If no technical issues occur in this period, I assume that the mission will be extended for a second time.
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• NASA. (n.d.). NASA’s perseverance Captures video, audio of FOURTH Ingenuity flight.
• ScienceAlert. (n.d.). Have a listen to the historic sound of ingenuity flying on mars.
• Wall, M. (2021, May 07). Perseverance rover captures sounds of Mars helicopter Ingenuity’s flight in awesome First (video).