NASA has released historic first audio recordings captured on the surface of Mars.
In the clips, recorded by two microphones aboard the US space agency’s Perseverance rover, listeners can hear the eerie sounds of Martian wind.
In a post to SoundCloud on Wednesday, Nasa described the sound as “listening to a seashell or having a hand cupped over the ear.”
“Just a little wind can be heard,” they added.
Nasa obtained the recordings on February 19, about 18 hours after Perseverance touched down in Mars’ Jezero crater.
The audio was captured by the SuperCam instrument, which also recorded sounds of its laser zapping a rock in order to test what it’s made of.
The rover’s mast, holding the microphone, was still stowed on Perseverance’s deck, and so the sound is muffled, Nasa said.
SuperCam was developed jointly by the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico and a consortium of French research laboratories.
The instrument delivered data to the French Space Agency’s operations centre in Toulouse.
“The sounds acquired are remarkable quality,” says Naomi Murdoch, a researcher at the ISAE-SUPAERO aerospace engineering school in Toulouse.
“It’s incredible to think that we’re going to do science with the first sounds ever recorded on the surface of Mars.”
Over the course of the two-year mission, scientists hope to use the rover’s audio recordings to analyse Martian rock and soil.
The six-wheeled machine is equipped with a laser that can hit targets up to 20ft (7m) away.
Some zaps sound slightly louder than others, providing information on the physical structure of the targets, such as its relative hardness.
Perseverance – What’s on board?
Perseverance boasts a total of 19 cameras and two microphones, and carries seven scientific instruments.
- Planetary Instrument for X-Ray Lithochemistry (PIXL)
An X-ray “ray gun” that will help scientists investigate the composition of Martian rock.
2. Radar Imager for Mars’ subsurface experiment (RIMFAX)
A ground-penetrating radar that will image buried rocks, meteorites, and even possible underground water sources up to a depth of 10 metres (33ft).
3. Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA)
A bunch of sensors that will take readings of temperature, wind speed and direction, pressure, and other atmospheric conditions.
4. Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE)
An experiment that will convert Martian carbon dioxide into oxygen. A scaled-up version could be used in future to provide Martian colonists with breathable air.
A suite of instruments for measuring the makeup of rocks and regolith at a distance
A camera system capable of taking “3D” images by combining two or more photos into one.
7. Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC)
From Baker Street to Mars: Sherloc contains an ultraviolet laser that will investigate Martian rock for organic compounds.
“It is amazing to see SuperCam working so well on Mars,” said Roger Wiens, the principal investigator for Perseverance’s SuperCam instrument from Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
“When we first dreamed up this instrument eight years ago, we worried that we were being way too ambitious. Now it is up there working like a charm.”
Perseverance is Nasa’s most complex Mars rover yet, sporting seven scientific instruments.
Dramatic footage released shortly after its descent provided the first ever video of a Mars landing thanks to the 19 cameras mounted onboard.
Since the, Perseverance has released a stunning panorama shot of the Martian surface and collected its first samples of soil.
Over the next two years, Perseverance will scan Mars for signs of alien life and carry out tests that are key to future manned missions to the planet.
The primary objective of Perseverance’s two-year mission – dubbed Mars 2020 – is to dig up soil samples that could contain all the proof we need that life grows on other planets.
The samples will be collected by a separate spacecraft due to arrive at Mars in 2028. They will be analysed by scientists when they arrive bac at Earth in the 2030s.
Another of the Mars mission’s headline experiments involves a small, drone helicopter named Ingenuity.
Strapped to the bottom of Perseverance, the lightweight craft will attempt the first ever powered flight on Mars in the coming months.
Other key equipment on board the $2.2billion rover include a potentially groundbreaking experiment called Moxie.
Moxie (Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment) is a small contraption housed in the belly of the rover that will convert a small amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide into oxygen.
It’s a 1/200 scale test model of a design that may be used on Mars to provide future colonists with breathable air.
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In other news, Nasa last month announced that it is accepting applications for space fans who wish to send their name to Mars.
Nasa’s Perseverance rover revealed stunning video and audio recordings from the surface of the Red Planet on February 23.
And, space geeks have revealed stunning 4k footage of Mars captured by Nasa’s Curiosity rover.
What do you make of the Martian wind sounds? Let us know in the comments!
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