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The sound of Mars

08 December 2018

"Capturing this audio was an unplanned treat", Bruce Banerdt, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a press release.

This is the only time when vibrations from the lander will be recorded by the seismometer, since it will be moved by the craft's robotic armed and placed on the Martian surface, along with other instruments. The sounds were recorded by an air pressure sensor inside the lander that is part of a weather station, as well as the seismometer on the deck of the spacecraft.

Cornell University's Don Banfield told reporters they reminded him of "sitting outside on a windy summer some sense, this is what it would sound like if you were sitting on the InSight lander on Mars".

During the first few weeks in its new home, InSight has been instructed to be extra careful, so anything unexpected will trigger what's called a fault. Those listening on a laptop or their phone might not be able to hear the original sound of the wind blowing across the lander's solar panels because the pitch is so low. The very first time that humans have heard the sounds of the winds on Mars!

We've never before been able to HEAR the sounds of the wind on Mars, though. Wow! These vibrations were created by wind passing over the spacecraft's large solar arrays, NASA officials said. The air pressure sensor recorded the vibrations directly from changes in the air.

The wind is estimated to be blowing at between 10 and 15mph.

But the scientists warned not to get too attached to these recordings, because they won't last long.

The air pressure sensor inside the shield will be relocated as well, and the team will gather data at night, when it expects the wind will have died down and the lander itself will be making less noise. The vehicle arrived on Mars in November, successfully landing after months of travel to the Red Planet. It will explore the planet's deep interior and analyze seismic activity or "marsquakes".

Thomas Pike of Imperial College London said the rumbling is "rather different to anything that we've experienced on Earth, and I think it just gives us another way of thinking about how far away we are getting these signals".

The sound of Mars