NASA's Insight lander records wind heard on Mars

Mars In Sight view of lander deck

"In some sense, this is what it would sound like if you were sitting on the InSight lander on Mars", Cornell University's Don Banfield told reporters.

Humans can now hear the haunting, low rumble of wind on Mars for the first time, after NASA's InSight lander captured vibrations from the breeze on the Red Planet, the U.S. space agency said Friday. The very first time that humans have heard the sounds of the winds on Mars! The air pressure sensor detected the air vibrations directly while the seismometer recorded vibrations caused by the Martian wind blowing across InSight's solar panels.

The wind you hear in this recording is blowing at between 10 and 15 mph (5 to 7 meters per second) and originates from northwest of the lander, the scientists reported. Because wind gusts can trick the seismometer, the lander is equipped with an air pressure sensor to isolate that background noise. The seismometer is waiting to be deployed to the lander's robotic arm, and once that happens it will be covered with a domed shield to protect it from wind and temperature changes, so it won't be able to pick up this sound. But the video also raises the audio two octaves to make it easier to hear.

InSight, which landed on 26 November 2018, will study the inside of Mars to learn how planets, moons and meteorites with rocky surfaces, including the Earth and its Moon, formed.

Image from NASA's InSight showing the surface of Mars.

The audio was picked up by both an air pressure sensor and the seismometer aboard InSight.

"But one of the things our mission is dedicated to is measuring motion on Mars, and naturally, that includes motion caused by sound waves", said Bruce Banerdt, the principal investigator. In the newest photos sent back by the robot it's immediately clear that its landing site is absolutely ideal.

The "really unworldly" sounds from InSight, meanwhile, have Banerdt imaging he's "on a planet that's in some ways like the Earth, but in some ways really alien".

In the meantime, the sounds of the Martian wind are a poignant reminder of just how far InSight has flown: more than 300 million miles (480 million kilometers), becoming only the eighth spacecraft to successfully touch down on the Red Planet.

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