What do you hear on Mars? Marsrover Perseverance is going to find out!

And on the way to the red planet, the rover has already made some audio recordings.

In late July, NASA’s newest rover chose Perseverance successfully airspace. Once arrived on the red planet, the rover will look for traces of microbes that may have roamed the red planet in a gray past. NASA also wants to collect various Mars samples during the mission. But that’s not all. The rover is equipped with microphones that – if everything goes according to plan – will capture interesting ambient sounds. And to test that for a while, Perseverance has already made some sound recordings along the way.

The plan is that the microphones with which Perseverance is equipped will immortalize the landing on the red planet. We may also hear the robber at work, hear the wind blowing and who knows what else the robber will be able to capture? The ultimate goal is for Perseverance to be able to capture the natural sounds on Mars, so that we can get an idea of ​​what exactly it sounds like on the red planet. “The science that we can get with an instrument as simple as a microphone is amazing,” said researcher Baptiste Chide.

The sounds that Perseverance will record during the mission may sound slightly different on Mars than the same sounds on Earth. These differences are not very extreme. “It sounds a bit like the sounds you hear through a wall,” says Chide. How is it possible that sounds on Mars are slightly different? That’s because the Martian atmosphere is about a hundred times thinner than Earth’s. And that lower density affects the way sound waves travel from the source to the microphones. Sounds on Mars will therefore likely be muffled and a little difficult to hear.

In addition, the atmosphere on Mars has a different composition. The Martian atmosphere consists mainly of carbon dioxide, while that of the Earth is mainly home to nitrogen and oxygen. It means that the higher frequencies on Mars are less audible than the lower tones. Finally, it is a lot colder on the red planet. Due to this colder atmosphere, sound waves reach the microphones just a little more slowly.

Curious about what sounds will sound like on Mars? Scientists have a taste for us. NASA is bidding on this page the ability to hear some familiar terrestrial sounds the way they sound on Mars. For example, you can hear birds chirping, the beeping of a reversing truck, a bicycle bell and music as they sound on our planet and as scientists expect them to sound on Mars. The differences are – as you will notice – subtle.

Meanwhile, Perseverance is steadily heading towards the red planet. And to test the microphones, researchers have recorded sounds of the spacecraft as it races through the universe. Listen to the recording below.

The muffled buzz you hear comes from the so-called heat rejection fluid pump what the rover is equipped with. This pump is located at the back of Perseverance and is part of the thermal system. Thanks to the pump, the temperature of all operational parts is always maintained, even during the coldest winter nights. “Although it is said that no one in the Universe can hear you scream, they can heat rejection fluid pump hear it, ”jokes researcher Dave Gruel. “The microphone was able to pick up the sound produced by the Perseverance thermal system. This works in the vacuum of space by means of technical vibrations. ”

Sound in space
It is true that the vacuum of space is a less optimal environment for the transmission of sound. But that doesn’t mean there is no sound at all. Sound waves can travel through solid objects. When these mechanical vibrations are sensed by an electronic component, they are sometimes converted into an electronic signal. Anyone who listens to music with earphones is familiar with this phenomenon. Just think of that rustling or thumping sound when the headphone cord hits a surface.

With the sound recordings in their hands, the researchers look to the future with confidence. “As great as it is to have received this sound in flight, the sound recording has a more important meaning,” says Gruel. “It means that our system is working and ready to make sound recordings during the march landing.” Although the researchers do not set the bar too high. “Recording sound during landing is a fun thing, not a dire necessity,” Gruel continues. “If it doesn’t work, it won’t stand in the way of Perseverance’s further exploration mission. If even a small part of the landing is recorded, we would think it would be fantastic. ”

Perseverance has a first in recording ambient sounds. This experiment can therefore yield some surprises. While scientists try to best predict what sounds will sound like on Mars, we won’t know for sure until Perseverance lands on the red planet. “I think it’s going to be a lot of fun to actually hear the sounds of another planet,” said Gruel. “This is a very unique experience,” adds Chide. “With the microphones on board the rover we add a fifth sense to the exploration of Mars. It opens up a new field of scientific research. ”

However, we still have to be patient. Because right now, the rover is still in space. Perseverance is expected to arrive on the red planet on February 18, 2021. And what are we looking forward to. Because it promises to be a wonderful mission that goes just a bit further than the missions of previous Mars rovers.

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