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  • Writer's pictureMaria Rutkowska

What does it sound like on Mars?

Have you ever wondered what it sounds like on Mars? For the past 50 years, space probes and rovers sent to the planet have captured countless of Mars but only heard the same consistent silence, similar to the sound of the vacuum of space. However, new sound measure devices installed on the NASA Perseverance Mars rover have recently succeeded in recording over 5 hours' worth of Martian winds for the first time ever.

According to Justin Maki, an imaging scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the rover contains two microphones, one mounted on the mast, which means it moves around as we point the cameras; the other camera is connected to the rover body, and juxtapose to the other camera, stays fixed.

Surprisingly, the microphones sent were commercial, drugstore bought items and could easily be found online. Justin Maki and Nina Lanza, the two scientist that installed it, explain that it gives them, and us, “a new dimension for which we can explore Mars…and learn about the Martian environment”. For instance, from analysing the sound, we can learn about rock material properties or atmosphere and how sound propagates through it. From the sound the rover itself makes; the scientists can understand the state of health of the store-bought instruments.

Sound on Earth differs from the sound on Mars due to the fact that the Martian atmosphere is 100 times less dense than earths. On Earth, we can hear multiple frequencies and pitches, as well as a variety of harmonics. In contrast, on Mars, the atmosphere weakens higher frequencies, meaning the sound is a bit more faded, rather muted. In fact, as the sound on Mars is exceedingly quiet with only a few sound sources aside from the wind, due to the lack of results, previous studies believed their microphone equipment was broken.

Nasa’s 2020 Mission Perseverance rover has provided us with novel sounds of our neighbouring planet, proving the difference between earth's environment and the environment of other planets.


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