Science Space

Nasa’s InSight lander captures the sounds of wind on Mars

NASA InSight Mars rover

The sound of the wind on Mars has been captured for the first time by Nasa’s InSight lander, which landed on the Elysium Planitia region of the red planet around 10 days ago.

The agency’s jet propulsion laboratory (JPL) has released audio clips of the alien wind on Friday evening. InSight collected the low-frequency rumblings during its first week of operations. It is estimated that the wind is blowing at between 10 and 15mph.

Sound of winds on Mars captured by InSight.

According to the researchers, these are the first sounds from Mars that are detectable by human ears. Technically, the lander isn’t made to detect sound, but its air pressure sensor and seismometer are both capable of detecting the minute variations as the wind rolls over it.

Bruce Banerdt, the InSight principal investigator at Nasa’s lab in Pasadena, California, said,

Capturing this audio was an unplanned treat. But one of the things our mission is dedicated to is measuring motion on Mars and naturally that includes motion caused by sound waves.

A second instrument, an air pressure sensor that is part of the weather station on InSight, also picked up sound vibrations. However, it was at a much lower frequency that can be heard perhaps by elephants and whales, but not people. The low frequencies are a result of Mars’ very thin air density, which is almost entirely made up of carbon dioxide.

The seismometer, which is meant to detect underground seismic waves that are well below the threshold of human hearing. The seismometer will be moved to the Martian surface in the coming weeks and until then, the team plans to record more wind noise.


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