Over the last eight months, NASA's Perseverance rover has used two onboard microphones to record more than five hours of sounds on the Red Planet, from wind gusts to the roll of the rover's wheels and the buzzing of the Ingenuity autonomous helicopter's blades. Perseverance is the first probe to be outfitted with dedicated microphones. Listen below! From NASA/JPL-Caltech:
"It's like you're really standing there," said Baptiste Chide, a planetary scientist who studies data from the microphones at L'Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie in France. "Martian sounds have strong bass vibrations, so when you put on headphones, you can really feel it. I think microphones will be an important asset to future Mars and solar system science."[…]
Some of those recordings are teaching scientists about changes in the planet's atmosphere. After all, sound travels through vibrations in the air. From its perch on Perseverance's mast, the SuperCam mic is ideally located for monitoring "microturbulence" – minute shifts in the air – and complements the rover's dedicated wind sensors, which are part of a suite of atmospheric tools called MEDA, short for the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer[…]
The microphone also allows for research on how sound propagates on Mars. Because the planet's atmosphere is much less dense than Earth's, scientists knew higher-pitched sounds in particular would be hard to hear. In fact, a few scientists – unsure if they'd hear anything at all – were surprised when the microphone picked up the Ingenuity helicopter's buzzing rotors during its fourth flight, on April 30, from a distance of 262 feet (80 meters).