The newest rover Perseverance has recorded the sound of its movement on the surface of the Red Planet. This is reported by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
When the Perseverance rover began making tracks on the surface of Mars, a sensitive microphone in its structure recorded the sounds of the rover. He was able to catch the bumps, rumblings and noise from the six wheels of the robot as they rolled across the Martian terrain.
“A lot of people, when they see the images, don’t realize that the wheels are metal,” explains Wandy Verma, senior engineer and rover driver at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “When they make their way over the rocks, it’s actually very noisy.”
More than 16 minutes of sounds from the 27.3-meter Perseverance pass are captured by the EDL Perseverance microphone, which continues to operate on the rover since its historic landing on February 18. A standard microphone has been added to the rover to convey as much detail as possible to the rover. However, it is also important for mission engineers to hear sounds from the surface.
“If I heard these sounds while driving my car, I would stop and call for a tugboat,” said Dave Gruel, lead camera and microphone subsystem engineer for the Mars 2020 EDL mission.
Two versions of the audio clip have been released to the public. The first version contains over 16 minutes of raw, unfiltered sounds of a rover traveling through Jezero Crater. It can hear the noise generated by the interaction of the Perseverance moving system (its wheels and suspension) with the surface, as well as a high-pitched scratching sound. The Perseverance engineering team continues to evaluate the source of the scratching noise, which could be either electromagnetic interference from one of the rover’s electronics or an interaction between the mobility system and the surface of Mars. The EDL microphone was not intended for ground operations and underwent limited testing in this configuration prior to launch.
The second version is a shorter compilation of sounds from a longer raw disc recording. For this 90-second version, NASA engineers combined three segments from the raw audio file (sections 0: 20-0: 45, 6: 40-7: 10, and 14: 30-15: 00), processing and editing them to filter out some of the noise.
This first audio recording of movement across the surface of the Red Planet joins a growing playlist of Mars sounds transmitted to Earth from Perseverance. A second microphone, part of the SuperCam instrument, previously picked up gusts of Martian wind and the sound of a laser scanning the surface of Mars to reveal details of their structure and composition. Such information will help scientists who are looking for signs of ancient microscopic life in the Jezero crater, taking samples of rocks and sediments. They will be delivered to Earth in future missions.