NASA Hears Sounds of Wind on Mars for the First Time

InSight is designed to study the interior of Mars like never before using seismology instruments to detect quakes and a self-hammering mole to measure heat escape from the planet's crust

NASA's InSight Mars lander, which touched down on the red planet last week, captured a bassy vibrating rumble deflecting off the lander's 7-foot solar panels.

Sure, the images it has already transmitted are great!

The new photos offer a more detailed look at the lander's surroundings, while also showing a clearer view of the InSight scientific instruments, now resting on the probe's deck.

Both audio samples have been released to the public nearly completely unaltered. 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. These are the first sounds from Mars that are detectible by human ears, according to the researchers.

The clip is only 20 seconds long, but it is so worth it! The spacecraft's seismometer and air pressure sensor picked up vibrations from 10-15 miles per hour (16-24 kph) winds as they blew across Mars' Elysium Planitia on December 1, 2018. Below is what InSight's weather station recorded - specifically the low-frequency infrasound detected by its atmospheric pressure sensor.

InSight will act as a giant ear on Mars that will measure any sound or pressure fluctuations of the wind, earthquakes, tectonic movement or volcanism.

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

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"In some sense, this is what it would sound like if you were sitting on the Insight lander on Mars".

But an even clearer sound from Mars is to come.

"Capturing this audio was an unplanned treat", said InSight principal investigator Bruce Banerdt, according to NASA.

The sound of the wind is similar to what wind, or maybe crashing waves, would sound like on Earth. NASA shared two copies of the wind recording, one as it was captured and another adjusted for playback on phones and laptops. The air pressure sensor recorded the vibrations directly from changes in the air.

'The solar panels on the lander's sides are flawless acoustic receivers, ' Prof Pike said.

The craft's landing comes as part of NASA's mission to explore the planet's deep interior. In a few weeks, it is due to be placed on the Martian surface by InSight's robotic arm. The lander has lifted its arm and taken the first pictures of its Martian landing site.

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