On December 1, 2018, NASA's InSight landing module, which landed on Mars on November 26, provided the first sounds of the planet Mars.
The spacecraft's sensors captured an astonishing low noise caused by wind vibrations, estimated to blow from 10 to 15 miles per hour from north-west to south-east. The winds were consistent with the direction of the dust devil streaks in the landing area, which were observed from the orbit.
You can hear entire uncompressed .wav files here.
Bruce Banerdt is a principal investigator for InSight at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. Banerdt said in a statement:
Capturing this audio was an unplanned treatment. But one of the things that our mission is dedicated to is measuring motion on Mars and, of course, this includes motion caused by sound waves.
InSight (which means Inner Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) is not a rover; It was designed to stand in one place and drill and study the deep interior of Mars. NASA said:
InSight's two-year mission will be to study the deep interior of Mars to learn how all celestial bodies with rocky surfaces, including Earth and Moon, form.
How did InSight pick up the sounds of the wind? Here is an explanation from NASA:
Two very sensitive sensors on the spacecraft detected these wind vibrations: an air pressure sensor inside the landing module and a seismometer sitting on the landing module deck, awaiting deployment by InSight's robotic arm. The two instruments recorded the wind noise in different ways. The air pressure sensor, part of the Auxiliary Payload Sensor Subsystem, which will collect meteorological data, has recorded these air vibrations directly. The seismograph recorded the vibrations of the lander caused by the wind that moved on the solar panels of the spacecraft, which are 2.2 meters in diameter and stand out from the sides of the probe as a pair of giant ears.
Tom Pike is a member of the InSight science team and sensor designer at Imperial College London. He said:
The InSight lander acts like a giant ear. The solar panels on the sides of the probe respond to fluctuations in wind pressure. It's as if InSight is holding its ears and hearing the wind from Mars beating at it. When we look at the direction of the vibrations of the probe coming from the solar panels, it corresponds to the expected direction of the wind at our landing site.
Pike compared the effect to a flag in the wind. When a flag breaks the wind, it creates oscillations in the pressure of the air that the human ear perceives as flapping.
Conclusion: NASA's InSight module captured the first sound of the wind on Mars.
Via NASA / JPL
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