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NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover returns the first sounds ever recorded to another planet

From NASA Perseverance rover, which landed on Mars less than a week ago, broadcast the very first audio recordings from the surface of the Red Planet.

NASA released the audio clips on Monday, as well as never seen before video footage the rover landing last Thursday, and the most sophisticated images ever taken of Mars.

With 25 on-board cameras, the rover also has two microphones. One did not work during the rover’s descent, but the other captured the sounds of the passing Martian wind, as well as the roar of the rover itself.

The audio clip marks the first sound ever recorded on another planet.

“For those who are wondering how you land on Mars – or why it is so difficult – or how cool it would be to do – you don’t need to look any further,” said Steve Jurczyk, administrator by acting of NASA.

In the first recording, the sounds of the rover itself are more prominent. In the second, NASA filtered the audio to make Mars sounds clearer.

“Imagine sitting on the surface of Mars and listening to the surroundings,” Dave Gruel, chief engineer of the rover’s camera and microphone subsystem, said at a press briefing. “That’s cool. Really neat. Overwhelming, if you will.”

Gruel said he was especially excited for the audio recordings so that visually impaired people can still experience the same excitement of reaching Mars as those who can view images and videos.

Members of the mission team said on Monday they hope to hear many more sounds from Mars, including wind, storms, falling rocks and the sound of Perseverance’s wheels as it moves or of his drill as he digs the Martian surface.

Audio can also signal scientists how Perseverance works and potentially identifies problems with the mobile. But, due to the harsh conditions on Mars, scientists warn that the microphones might not last the entire duration of the mission.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said the records are “the closest you can get to landing on Mars without putting on a pressure suit.”

Scientists have already tried to hear Mars. The microphones made it to the Red Planet twice – the Mars Polar Lander failed and the microphone on board the Phoenix Lander was never turned on.

In 2018, the unexpected landing of NASA’s Insight Mars picked up similar sounds vibrations of the Martian wind using its atmospheric pressure sensor and seismometer. But, Perseverance captured the reality of the surface of Mars, using “commercial” microphones, specifically dedicated to audio capture.

Perseverance will soon get to work searching for signs of ancient life in Jezero Crater. And within a decade, he plans to be the first to send samples from the red planet to Earth.


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