Ever wondered what human voices would sound like on Mars? NASA’s Perseverance may finally have an answer.
NASA on Thursday released the sound of lasers recorded by the Perseverance rover from its current location on Mars’ Jezero crater. The recorded audio clips were posted on NASA’s Soundcloud page were recorded by the microphone attached to the SuperCam mounted on the Perseverance rover.
However, the laser does not sound like what you’d expect it to sound like on Earth – instead of a zap or a ‘pew pew’ sound we’re used to hearing, the acoustic recording of laser shots on Mars sounds more like a continuous snap. The sound was produced from the laser hitting a rock.
Two other two sound recordings were also shared, of what an ocean sounds like on Earth, vs what an ocean sounds like on Mars. Windchimes blowing in the wind, bells ringing and finally, humans talking, all of which were also recorded and shared on its Twitter page.
Did you know? Some sounds that we’re used to on Earth, like whistles, bells or bird songs, would be almost inaudible on Mars.Learn more in the “Sounds of Mars” episode of our Curious Universe podcast.
— NASA (@NASA) March 10, 2021
These recordings have demonstrated that our microphone is not only functioning well, but we also have a very high-quality signal for our scientific studies,” SuperCam team member Naomi Murdoch, a researcher at the Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace in Toulouse, France, said during a live webcast, reports Scientific American.
“In the SuperCam team, we’re extremely excited about the perspectives and the scientific investigations that we’re going to be able to do with the microphone data,” Murdoch said.
The rover carries a pair of microphones which which provides interesting and historic audio of the arrival and landing at Mars, along with sounds of the rover at work and of wind and other ambient noise. “It is stunning all the science we can get with an instrument as simple as a microphone on Mars,” said Baptiste Chide from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a contributor to the ‘SuperCam’ microphone.
The way many things sound on Earth would be slightly different on the Red Planet. That’s because the Martian atmosphere is only 1 per cent as dense as Earth’s atmosphere at the surface and has a different makeup than ours, which affects sound emission and propagation. “But the discrepancy between sounds on Earth and Mars would be much less dramatic than, for example, someone’s voice before and after inhaling helium from a balloon,” the US space agency said in a statement.
One microphone aboard Perseverance, located on the SuperCam instrument atop the rover’s mast, will be used for science and to record audio of Perseverance and natural sounds on Mars. It will capture sounds of the rover’s laser turning rock into plasma when it hits a target to gather information on rock properties, including hardness.
Since the SuperCam microphone is located on the rover’s remote sensing mast, it can be pointed in the direction of a potential sound source. An additional experimental microphone aboard the rover will attempt to record sounds during the mission’s super-tricky entry, descent, and landing (EDL).
It may capture, for example, sounds of pyrotechnic devices firing to release the parachute, the Martian winds, wheels crunching down on the Martian surface, and the roaring engines of the descent vehicle as it flies safely away from the rover.