Sound From Mars Heard For First Time On Earth

View of lander deck

It was just a couple of weeks ago that NASA's shiny new InSight lander successfully touched down on the Red Planet, sending cheers throughout NASA and the scientific community as a whole. Shown are the lander's arm (top), its 2.2 metre wide solar panel, one of its two TWINS temperature and wind sensors (left of centre), its UHF antenna (bottom centre), its SEIS seimometer (bottom left), and the white dome (centre left) now covers its pressure sensor.

This latest collection of images from the spacecraft's landing site at Elysium Planitia comprises 17 novel snapshots and was received by mission controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, on December 4 - or sol 8 of the InSight Mars mission. But the ICC, located underneath the lander's deck, is demonstrating that Mars is still unpredictable. The air pressure sensor detected the air vibrations directly while the seismometer recorded vibrations caused by the Martian wind blowing across InSight's solar panels.

The first sounds ever recorded on Mars have been beamed back to Earth.

But while the instruments on InSight can capture data in human-friendly frequencies, higher-pitched sounds don't travel well on Mars.

The "really unworldly" sounds from InSight, meanwhile, have Banerdt imaging he's "on a planet that's in some ways like the Earth, but in some ways really alien". Readings from the air pressure sensor have been sped up by a factor of 100 times to make them audible. The seismometer recorded lander vibrations caused by the wind moving over the spacecraft's solar panels, which are each 7 feet (2.2 meters) in diameter and stick out from the sides of the lander like a giant pair of ears.

To better hear this bass sound, it's better you bring out your headphones, or your subwoofer, as NASA suggested. "It's like InSight is cupping its ears and hearing the Mars wind beating on it", he said. In a few weeks, it is due to be placed on the Martian surface by InSight's robotic arm. It still will detect the lander's movement, though channeled through the Martian surface. The Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), the seismometer, will use the vibrations to help scientists configure more about the planet's interior.

Keep watching for more to come from InSight!

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