NASA’s Perseverance Rover is on the surface of the Red Planet, conducting science operations looking for evidence of ancient microbial life and water in the distant past. Among the instruments and tools aboard the rover are a pair of microphones that NASA uses to record sounds on the Red Planet. NASA’s microphones add a new dimension to the exploration of Mars and so far have recorded hours of sounds.
Among the five hours of audio recordings NASA has captured so far are the sounds of gusts of wind on another planet, the rover’s six wheels crunching across the gravel on the ground, and Perseverance’s motors as they move the robotic arm around. One of the coolest parts about the sounds that have been collected is NASA has shared them so we can all hear what it sounds like to be on another planet.
The video below lets us listen to the sounds. Adding sound to other content certainly adds a new dimension to our exploration of Mars. Interestingly, the sounds recorded on Mars have strong bass vibrations, and when people listen with headphones, they can hear and feel what Mars sounds like. Perseverance is the first spacecraft designed with sound recording instruments aboard.
Both the microphones used aboard the rover are commercial off-the-shelf components. NASA fitted one microphone to the side of the rover’s chassis. The second is on the mast near the SuperCam laser instrument intended to investigate the atmosphere of the Red Planet and rocks. The microphone on the mast records the sounds of the zaps made by the laser pulses used to study rocks.
NASA says, so far, that microphone has picked up 25,000 laser pulses. The reason the microphone was situated on the mast isn’t only to record the sounds of the laser pulses. Rather it’s an ideal location to allow NASA to monitor microturbulence in the form of very small changes in the air.