What Wind Sounds Like On Mars

Credit NASA  Twitter

Credit NASA Twitter

The low-frequency rumblings were collected by the InSight lander during its first week of operations at Mars.

InSight's recorded the Martian wind on December 1, when it was blowing with 10 to 15 miles per hour (5-7 meters a second), from northwest to southeast.

As if one sensor picking this up wasn't enough, the air pressure sensor also recorded the wind sound. That's consistent with the direction of dust devil streaks from the landing area, observed from above by NASA's orbiting spacecraft. Though the instrument might still feel vibrations from the lander, it will only sense those vibrations if they're transmitted through the martian soil to the sensor.

The air pressure sensor, which is primarily meant for meteorological observations, recorded the Martian wind directly.

The 1976 Viking landers on Mars picked up spacecraft shaking caused by wind, but it would be a stretch to consider it sound, said InSight's lead scientist, Bruce Banerdt, of JPL in Pasadena, California. In a few weeks, InSight's arm will set the measuring device on the surface of Mars. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech.

What does Martian wind sound like?

Credit NASA
Credit NASA

This is a very rare treat indeed, particularly since this is the only part of the mission where the seismometer, called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), will be capable of detecting vibrations generated directly by the lander. However, for the time being it's sending data to scientists who will later use the information to detect actual 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". It's like InSight is cupping its ears and hearing the Mars wind beating on it. He added, "When we looked at the direction of the lander vibrations coming from the solar panels, it matches the expected wind direction at our landing site".

The noise is of the wind blowing against InSight's solar panels and the resulting vibration of the entire spacecraft.

With a reach of almost 6 feet (2 m), the lander's arm will be used to pick up science instruments from its deck, gently setting them on the Martian surface at Elysium Planitia.

"By early next week, we'll be imaging it in finer detail and creating a full mosaic".

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