More news from NASA’s InSight mission to Mars, as the sounds picked up from the red planet are released to the public for the first time. The InSight mission landed successfully on the surface of Mars in November and has been sending data back to researchers on Earth.
The InSight craft touched down on Mars ten days ago inside a small depression full of sand, from where it has been gathering data using its robotic arm by picking up instruments from its deck and setting them carefully on the Martian surface. Two of these instruments, the air pressure sensor and the seismometer, were able to detect wind vibrations from the 10 to 15 mph winds in the area. The observations of this wind were consistent with earlier evidence of dust devil streaks in the sand of the landing area, which was observed from orbit.
You can listen to the audio of the Martian winds recorded by InSight in this video:
The sounds are just about within the range of human hearing, but they are very low pitched so they’re hard to hear on laptop or mobile speakers. You can listen to the sounds from the seismometer with headphones or a sound system with a subwoofer to hear them properly — or skip forward to 00:58 in the video to hear a version of the sounds which has been pitched up two octaves to make it easier to hear. At the end of the video there is also audio picked up by the air pressure sensor, sped up by a factor of 100 to make it audible.
Bruce Banerdt, InSight principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), said that capturing the audio of the wind vibrations was an “unexpected treat” but that the JPL team would happily take any information about Mars that they are able to glean from the InSight instruments: “One of the things our mission is dedicated to is measuring motion on Mars, and naturally that includes motion caused by sound waves.”
The InSight seismometer gathered the sounds from the Martian winds blowing across the lander’s solar panels. Eventually, the seismometer will be moved off of the lander and onto the ground in front of it, where it will study Marsquakes by gathering data about the vibrations coming from deep within the planet.