Research, Technology

The Perseverance rover recorded the sounds of Mars and spoke about the properties of its atmosphere

The Perseverance rover is on the surfaceThe red planet is already more than one year old. During this time, a lot has been done - for example, as part of the NASA mission, it successfully tested the Ingenuity helicopter and collected (though not immediately) several samples of local soil. In addition, the American rover actively performs other types of work using built-in tools. One of the devices installed in it is SuperCam 2 - a camera equipped with a microphone. Approximately 18 hours after descending to the surface of Mars, the device recorded the sounds around it and sent it to Earth. The researchers studied the data and were initially confused because they didn't hear anything. It turned out that our neighboring planet is very quiet in nature. Despite the silence, the recording was edited and allowed scientists to learn a very interesting detail about the properties of the Martian atmosphere.

Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter

Sound recordings on Mars

Photographs of the surface of Mars space lovershas long been impossible to surprise. But the public has been waiting for audio recordings with the Martian wind and the creaking of the wheels of the rover for many years. Perseverance is not the only one of its kind to carry a microphone. Before him, the Mars Polar Lander launched in 1999 and the Phoenix Lander space robot launched in 2007 were equipped with sound recording devices. Unfortunately, in the first case, the attempt to record sound ended in complete failure, and in the second case, the microphone did not turn on.

Mars Polar Lander

Spacecraft "Phoenix"

Martian sounds first became available to us in2018. Hours after landing on Mars, Perseverance used the SuperCam 2 to record several sounds. They were recorded in the range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz - values ​​that are outside the range of human hearing, according to New Atlas. The data obtained was both exciting and disappointing, because the planet Mars turned out to be a terribly quiet place. Employees at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at first even thought that the microphone built into the camera was broken.

See also: How is humanity studying Mars and how is Russia involved in this?

What sounds are heard on Mars?

As mentioned, the received sounds werefar beyond the range of human hearing, so scientists had to make them audible. After that, it was discovered that the Perseverance rover recorded the crunch of gravel under its wheels, laser strikes on stones, and other events. Also on the recordings you can hear the quiet howl of the Martian wind. Scientists were especially interested in the sounds that were recorded after the laser hit the stones - by their nature it was possible to understand what properties are characteristic of different types of Martian soil.

Communication on Mars is very difficult

It is noteworthy that this is not the onlyfeature of the Martian atmosphere. It differs markedly from the earth not only in physical properties, but also in chemical composition. Due to the fact that the gravity of the Red Planet is 2.6 times weaker than the Earth's, it is dominated by heavy gases that did not have time to disappear into space. The air on Mars is 95% carbon dioxide, and among other substances it is worth highlighting nitrogen, argon, methane, and so on.

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Due to the peculiarities of the Martian atmosphere andthe presence of bulky spacesuits, future explorers of the planet will not even be able to hear their own steps. Scientists believe that because of this, astronauts will stumble more often and the risk of injury in space will increase markedly. Given that far from Earth, it will be difficult for injured astronauts to provide first aid, the likelihood of injury should be minimized. To let people hear their footsteps in space, scientists want to equip the suits' boots with small microphones. You can read more about this here.