Want to hear what it sounds like on Mars? NASA's Perseverance rover gives you the chance.
During its historic mission on the red planet, NASA's Perseverance rover has sent to Earth the sounds of wind on Mars. Listen to them here.
Science & Tech
Less than two months after collecting its first sample of rocks from Mars, the Perseverance rover is collecting another incredible sample from the red planet: sound.
The rover, which first arrived on Mars in February, has two microphones attached to it. It has so far recorded around five hours of sound, including "Martian wind gusts, rover wheels crunching over gravel, and motors whirring as the spacecraft moves its arm," NASA says.
With the help of those microphones, NASA created an interactive experience that shows what sounds on Earth, such as ocean waves, bicycle bells and even humans speaking, would sound like on Mars. You can hear what it sounds like here. NASA suggests wearing headphones.
Many factors change the sound quality on the two planets, NASA says.
Mars is significantly colder than Earth, and the well-below-freezing temperatures mean sound takes longer to travel. The speed of sound on Earth is 760 miles per hour, while on Mars it's 540 miles per hour. The density of Mars' atmosphere is 100 times less than Earth, so sound is softer there.
Plus, Mars' atmosphere is made up of 96% carbon dioxide, which absorbs high-pitched sounds, so only low-pitched noises would travel from afar. That's why if you try to listen to the Mars version of a bicycle bell, you may hear almost nothing.
"If you were standing on Mars, you’d hear a quieter, more muffled version of what you’d hear on Earth, and you’d wait slightly longer to hear it," NASA says.
Baptiste Chide, a planetary scientist studying the audio at L’Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie in France, says all the differences give Mars strong bass vibrations that "you can really feel" with headphones on.
“It’s like you’re really standing there,” Chide said. "I think microphones will be an important asset to future Mars and solar system science."
Besides listening to audio on the planet, Perseverance's microphones are also being used to check the spacecraft for any maintenance needs, like any engine issues or any subtle differences in the wheels.
"We routinely listen for changes in sound patterns on our test rover here on Earth, which can indicate there’s an issue that needs attention," said Vandi Verma, Perseverance’s chief engineer for robotic operations.