NASA Recorded the Sounds of Mars (And It's Almost All Creepy Bass)

Cristina Cross
December 8, 2018

Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory played recordings on Friday, December 7, of the sounds of Mars, captured by its new Mars lander, InSight, since it arrived on the planet late last month. The seismometer recorded vibrations as the wind moved over the lander's solar panels, each of which is more than 2 metres in diameter and sticks out from the sides of the lander like a giant pair of ears.

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. According to the space agency, the wind was blowing at between 10 and 15mph.

A second track is a little easier to hear since NASA processed it to make more audible.

The audio was picked up by both an air pressure sensor and the seismometer aboard InSight. And now, the team behind the mission has turned the first bits of that data into an incredible new soundtrack, which you can hear in a new video, released today (Dec. 7). These sensors can detect motion at sub-atomic scales, which includes the wind on Mars, which is barely within the lower range of human hearing.

But an even clearer sound from Mars is to come. "A haunting low rumble" was recorded by the rover, which detected the vibrations from wind blowing across its large solar panels. The lander will measure whether tremors have the same effect as earthquakes.

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According to NASA, InSight is now in the process of setting up its instruments on Mars. The air pressure sensor, part of the Auxiliary Payload Sensor Subsystem (APSS), which will collect meteorological data, recorded these air vibrations directly.

You can download NASA's Sounds of Mars recording here.

"Capturing this audio was an unplanned treat", said InSight principal investigator, Bruce Banerdt.

"It really sounds otherworldly, and that is exactly what it is". In a few weeks, it will be placed on the Martian surface by InSight's robotic arm, then covered by a domed shield to protect it from wind and temperature changes. One is set to record the sound of landing on the Red Planet and the other will listen for the sounds made by a laser used to investigate materials on the surface.

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