NASA's InSight lander captures 1st sounds of Martian wind

CBS News reported that the audio, which was shared in a video by NASA, captures the sound of a northwest Martian wind blowing at 10 to 15 miles per hour.

NASA's InSight lander touched down on the Red Planet Nov. 26, and since its arrival, the robot has focused on acclimating to its new environment on Elysium Planitia. However NASA promise an even clearer sound of the Red Planet is coming with the Mars 2020 rover that will have two microphones on board. These are the first sounds from Mars that are detectible by human ears, according to the researchers.

InSight isn't exactly a recording studio on Mars, but an air pressure sensor inside the lander and a seismometer on the lander's deck were both able to pick up wind vibrations. In the near future, InSight will place the seismometer tool used to detect the vibrations on the planet's surface. "We want to be sure that each operation that we perform on Mars is safe, so we set our safety monitors to be fairly sensitive initially". NASA recommends that you hear the recording with listening equipment, because it's an eerie mix of low pitch and wind. The air pressure sensor recorded the vibrations directly from changes in the air.

"Capturing this audio was an unplanned treat", said Bruce Banerdt, the InSight principal investigator at Nasa's lab in Pasadena, California. "The solar panels on the lander's sides respond to pressure fluctuations of the wind".

"This is the first time on the surface of Mars that we've had instruments that can detect up to the frequency that humans can hear", Tom Pike, a scientist on the InSight project who focuses on the sensors, said during a news conference unveiling the recording.

In the video posted on Twitter, NASA said mission engineers will eventually move the seismometer off the lander and onto the ground.

We've never before been able to HEAR the sounds of the wind on Mars, though. Wow! The scheduled Mars 2020 Rover will have on board microphones for the goal of recording the sound of the landing.

The first image the lander sent back right after it made its successful landing was obstructed and hard to make out because the lens cap was still on the camera but with the cap off the photos are far more clear now.

Vanessa Coleman