New NASA lander captures 1st sounds of Martian wind

View of robotic arm

View of robotic arm

Image from NASA's InSight showing the surface of Mars.

The Instrument Deployment Camera aboard NASA's InSight lander took this photo of one of the lander's 7-foot (2.2 meters) wide solar panels.

During the first few weeks in its new home, InSight has been instructed to be extra careful, so anything unexpected will trigger what's called a fault. It is just fantastic to hear the first ever sounds from Mars.

The clip is only 20 seconds long, but it is so worth it!

According to NASA, InSight is now in the process of setting up its instruments on Mars. Below is what InSight's weather station recorded - specifically the low-frequency infrasound detected by its atmospheric pressure sensor. "It's like InSight is cupping its ears and hearing the Mars wind beating on it", he said. As new Science Minister I am excited to see what more we can achieve on land and in outer space. We've even touched pieces of Mars, because we've found Martian meteorites here on Earth. "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".

But while the instruments on InSight can capture data in human-friendly frequencies, higher-pitched sounds don't travel well on Mars.

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

The sounds released include data from InSight's seismometer of vibrations caused by wind moving over the lander's solar panels and from the lander's air presser sensor. That lander is scheduled to arrive on Mars in two years and will have microphones on board to record direct sounds, including the sound of the landing. The air pressure sensor, part of the Auxiliary Payload Sensor Subsystem (APSS), which will collect meteorological data, recorded these air vibrations directly. When InSight is conducting its science mission, the seismometer won't be able to hear the wind, attuned only to the grumblings of the planet's interior. The seismometer is waiting to be deployed to the lander's robotic arm, and once that happens it will be covered with a domed shield to protect it from wind and temperature changes, so it won't be able to pick up this sound. It still will detect the lander's movement, though channeled through the Martian surface.

Keep watching for more to come from InSight!

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