The new rover which has been sent to Mars will , for the first time, make it possible to listen to the noises it emits. The machine is equipped with a pair of microphones. The color images captured by cameras linked to EDL ( Entry Descent and Landing ) devices will therefore be accompanied by sounds. The broadcast will begin immediately after landing, but a team of audio experts will process the data before making it available to the public.
NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover will land in Jezero Crater on Mars on February 18, 2021. The first microphone will be activated during landing and the second during the mission on Martian soil. Thus, the sound recording will take place during landing, well before the rover begins to observe.
One of the microphones, mounted at the top of the remote sensing mast, can be pointed in the direction of a potential sound source. One will be used for science and engineering, while the other will be used to find traces of life.
A technical diagnostic tool
Soon humans will be able to hear the sounds of wind, storms and any other noise unique to the Martian environment. One of the microphones will also record the sound the rover makes while working. The sounds of the laser that will explode Martian rocks, for example, will inform scientists about the hardness and composition of these. The sound sensor will thus constitute a technical diagnostic tool.
The second microphone, on the other hand, will pick up sounds as they enter the atmosphere, descend and land. He recorded the sounds of the pyrotechnics releasing the parachute, the Martian winds, the wheels on the Martian surface and the roar of the engines of the descent vehicle.
“It's amazing what we can achieve with an instrument as simple as a microphone on Mars. "
Baptiste Chide, postdoctoral researcher in planetary science at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
“We put a grille at the end of the microphone to protect it from dust on Mars. I think it will be very nice to hear the sounds of another planet. "
Dave Gruel, responsible for assembly, testing and launch of March 2020; head of camera and EDL microphones at JPL
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Previous attempts have failed
This idea of sending a microphone to Mars is not new. The first attempt was with Mars Polar Lander in 1999, but the spacecraft crashed on the descent.
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Another was for Phoenix in 2007, but the mic was never turned on due to an electronic problem that would have affected other systems.