NASA has released the sound of Mars in an audio recording by the Perseverance rover on the surface of the Red Planet. The recording was made on February 20, but the space agency shared it last night at their official press conference.
The rover is equipped with two microphones that can record both the sounds of Mars (for example, the Martian wind) and the noise of the rover itself. These are the first microphones operating on the surface of the Red Planet.
The agency also has shared a selection of sounds from Mars created by Perseverance’s start command. The researchers collected earthly sounds – birdsong, ocean noise, and others – and imagined how they might sound on Mars. Several factors were taken into account to create the records: temperature, density, and chemical composition of the atmosphere of Mars.
Despite the planetary differences, the terrestrial sound on Mars will remain largely unchanged – as if a quieter and more muted version with a time delay were heard, the mission team writes. Mars sounds are higher than most voices.
Terrestrial and Martian sounds differ due to the difference in the atmospheres of the planets. This is reflected in the speed of sound, its level, and quality. Thus, the sounds emitted in the cold Martian atmosphere, in comparison with the earth’s, take much longer to be heard by a person. The speed of sound on Mars is about 240 m/s versus 340 m/s on Earth (with an average surface temperature of about minus 63 °C).
In addition, to hear sound equivalent to Earth’s loudness, on Mars, you need to be much closer to its source. The propagation of sound waves is affected by the less dense Martian atmosphere – the density is about 100 times less. Sound quality is influenced by the atmosphere of Mars, which is 96% carbon dioxide. It absorbs high-frequency sounds; only low-frequency sounds can be heard over long distances.
The Perseverance rover, launched by NASA on July 30, 2020, reached the surface of Mars on February 18. The main tasks of the mission are to look for signs of possible life on the planet in the past and collect soil samples.
The device is expected to spend on the planet at least one Martian year, equal to two Earth years. However, we all know that most exploration missions continue long after their original life expectancy and we can certainly expect Perseverance to survive for many more years.
Other than the incredible recording of the sound of Mars, NASA published a video taken during the landing of Perseverance. We have a separate article where we discussed everything seen in the video here.
Furthermore, NASA has released almost 5000 images from the surface of Mars. Currently, 4,796 raw, unprocessed images from the descending, engineering, and scientific cameras are available. Think about the significance of all this!
For example, the Viking 1 landed on Mars on July 20, 1976, and operated until November 11, 1982. Its twin brother, Viking 2, landed on September 3, 1976, and operated until April 12, 1980. In summary, for the whole time (1976 – 1982) the two landers sent 4,500 photos in total.
Perseverance has already radiated many more images to Earth in the first four days of its operation than the Viking missions together in 6 years total.
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• Boyle, A. (2021, February 23). NASA releases JAW-DROPPING video and audio from Mars, with an assist from AWS.
• Crane, L. (2021, February 22). Perseverance rover has sent BACK STUNNING video and audio from Mars.
• Mack, E. (2021, February 22). NASA’s perseverance ROVER sends back Chilling first sounds from Mars. hear them here.
• NASA. (n.d.). Images from the mars perseverance rover.
• NASA. (n.d.). Mars audio recordings.
• Potter, S. (2021, February 22). NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover provides first audio recording on Mars.