Martian rover records what the weather sounds like on Mars for the first time
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Featured Image Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SSI / ISAE-SUPAERO
NASA’s Perseverance rover has recorded the first ever weather sounds on Mars after its microphone picked up a martian dust devil.
Dust devils are a fairly common occurrence on the Red Planet but the sound they make had never been heard by humans - until now. Check it out:
While previous NASA missions to Mars have captured photos and videos of the planet’s surface, this is the first time we’ve been able to hear it.
The 11-second recording captures two instances of low frequency wind as the walls of the dust devil pass over the rover; and in the middle, there is a quiet moment when the rover was in the eye of the dust devil’s vortex.
Lead study author Dr. Naomi Murdoch, researcher at the University of Toulouse’s Higher Institute of Aeronautics and Space - also known as ISAE-SUPAERO - said capturing the recording was ‘very lucky’.
The SuperCam's built-in microphone, which Dr Murdoch and her team created, collects eight recordings a month - each lasting around 167 seconds each - and one of those eight recordings, from 27 September, 2021, just so happened to capture the noise from the dust devil.
She told CNN: “We estimate that a single microphone observation in the mid-day period (the time of day when there is the most dust devil activity) has only a 1 in 200 chance of recording a dust devil like the one we encountered.
“We definitely got lucky, but we also carefully targeted the instrument observations to increase the chances of success.”
Images and other data recorded by the rover was pieced together to gain an understanding of what happened.
Using all the information gathered, the team determined the dust devil was a whopping 387 feet (118 meters) tall and spanned 82 feet (25 meters wide) - although this may sound huge, it's actually fairly normal-sized for a dust devil on Mars.
Dr Murdoch told CNN that the data recorded by the microphones is being used to gain an insight into the atmospheric science possibilities on Mars.
She said: “All of these measurements and analyses highlight just how valuable acoustic data are in planetary exploration. Therefore, in parallel, at ISAE-SUPAERO, we are developing the next generation of acoustic sensors that will be sent to other planetary bodies with an atmosphere in the future.”