December 4, 2021

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What can be heard on Mars?  Much more than expected!

What can be heard on Mars? Much more than expected!

This also tells us a lot about the red planet’s atmosphere.

The persistent Mars rover has been searching our red and dusty neighboring planet for at least eight months. To do this as much as possible, the six-wheeled wagon was equipped with various ingenious tools. For example, the rover has two microphones, adding a new dimension to the way scientists explore the Red Planet. Meanwhile, microphones were deployed several times. And it turned out to be surprising to hear so much of what was to be expected.

microphones
Perseverance has already picked up a lot of ambient sounds using its microphones. For example, nearly five hours of gusts of wind have been recorded, we hear rover wheels breaking through gravel, engines ringing as perseverance moves its robotic arm.

perseverance playlist
Meanwhile, the “playlist” for persistence on the red planet is steadily growing. While the rover was on its way to Mars, He made his first audio recordings. Then the rover, after landing in the Jezero crater, Play some ambient sounds. For example, we can hear winds blowing on Mars for a while and microphones are recording mechanical sounds from the rover. Then, perseverance revealed – perhaps even more exciting – What does an alien hunt look like?. Because SuperCam – a tool that can create images and audio recordings, but also detect the presence of organic matter in rocks – unambiguously captures the sound of fast laser beams. We were also able to listen What does a trip to Mars look like?. This does not come easily.

These sounds allow scientists and engineers to experience the Red Planet in a new way – and everyone is invited to join. “It looks like you’re standing there on your own,” says researcher Baptiste Scheid. “Mars sounds have strong bass vibrations, so if you put on headphones you can really feel it.”

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Atmosphere
Among other things, microphones are used to study how sound travels on Mars. This also tells us a lot about the red planet’s atmosphere. Sound is transmitted through vibrations in the air. Such research is interesting. The atmosphere of Mars has a different composition than that of the Earth. For example, the atmosphere of Mars consists mainly of carbon dioxide, while ours contains mainly nitrogen and oxygen. This means that higher frequencies on Mars are less audible than lower tones. In addition, it is much colder on the Red Planet. Because of this cold weather, sound waves reach the microphones a little slower.

More than expected
But now researchers have made the happy discovery that there’s actually more to be heard on Mars than previously thought. For example, scientists were quite surprised when microphones picked up the noisy rotors of a creativity helicopter during Fourth flight. This allowed the researchers to cross out two of the three models developed to explain how sound travels on Mars. “Sound travels farther on Mars than we thought,” said researcher Nina Lanza. “This highlights the importance of doing fieldwork.”

“Sound on Mars travels further than we thought”

maintenance
Incidentally, the ability to record sounds is not only relevant to the search for the Red Planet. It may also be useful in the maintenance of future spacecraft. Cameras are often used today to monitor, for example, wheel erosion on Mars Curiosity or dust accumulating on Marslander Insight’s solar panels. But microphones can also detect all kinds of things about spacecraft health, similar to mechanics listening to a car’s engine to diagnose a problem.

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The Perseverance team doesn’t just use the microphones the rover is equipped with to learn more about the Red Planet. The microphones were positioned so that scientists could also listen to wheels and other internal systems. Although not enough recordings are made to detect any changes, the intention is that technicians will eventually be able to hear the subtle differences. This will then make an important contribution to how the research team monitors the health of the spacecraft. “We like to listen to these sounds on a regular basis,” researcher Vandi Verma said. “After all, we also hear regularly for changes in sound patterns in our test vehicles here on Earth, which could indicate there is an issue that needs attention.”