Hear something no human has heard before: the winds of Mars!
Friday, December 7, 2018, 8:53 PM - Want to listen to something amazing? Be one of the first people, ever, to hear the winds on Mars, thanks to NASA's new InSight lander!
It's been less than two weeks since InSight touched down on the surface of the Red Planet, but it is already sending back amazing things for us to marvel at.
Sure, the images it has already transmitted are great! They show off the lander, its components, and its surroundings, in clear detail, and these are just the beginning!
NASA InSight snapped this raw photo using its arm-mounted instrument deployment camera. Shown are the lander's arm (top), its 2.2 metre wide solar panel, one of its two TWINS temperature and wind sensors (left of centre), its UHF antenna (bottom centre), its SEIS seimometer (bottom left), and the white dome (centre left) currently covers its pressure sensor. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The latest release from the InSight team is truly a first, though! The very first time that humans have heard the sounds of the winds on Mars!
The clip is only 20 seconds long, but it is so worth it! Listen below!
That rumbling noise was the vibrations, caused by the wind flowing over InSight's solar panels, which were recorded by the lander's sensitive seismometer. Below is what InSight's weather station recorded - specifically the low-frequency infrasound detected by its atmospheric pressure sensor.
The vibrations have been shifted up into the human audible range, and sped up so that we can make sense of them, but it really sounds like if you were sitting on the lander's deck, hearing the winds whistle by your ears!
We've seen the surface of Mars, through pictures. We've even touched pieces of Mars, because we've found Martian meteorites here on Earth. We've examined Mars' atmosphere with landers and rovers and satellites.
We've never before been able to HEAR the sounds of the wind on Mars, though. Wow!
"Capturing this audio was an unplanned treat," said InSight principal investigator Bruce Banerdt, according to NASA. "But one of the things our mission is dedicated to is measuring motion on Mars, and naturally that includes motion caused by sound waves."
According to NASA:
Two very sensitive sensors on the spacecraft detected these wind vibrations: an air pressure sensor inside the lander and a seismometer sitting on the lander's deck, awaiting deployment by InSight's robotic arm. The two instruments recorded the wind noise in different ways. The air pressure sensor, part of the Auxiliary Payload Sensor Subsystem (APSS), which will collect meteorological data, recorded these air vibrations directly. The seismometer recorded lander vibrations caused by the wind moving over the spacecraft's solar panels, which are each 7 feet (2.2 meters) in diameter and stick out from the sides of the lander like a giant pair of ears.
This is the only phase of the mission during which the seismometer, called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), will be capable of detecting vibrations generated directly by the lander. 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. It still will detect the lander's movement, though channeled through the Martian surface. For now, it's recording vibrational data that scientists later will be able to use to cancel out noise from the lander when SEIS is on the surface, allowing them to detect better actual marsquakes.
Keep watching for more to come from InSight!