How fast does sound travel on Mars?

NASA’s Perseverance rover has determined the speed of sound on Mars, and it is actually quite different to Earth.

For years, scientists have pondered how quickly sound travels in the atmospheric conditions of Mars. The answer has finally been uncovered thanks to the handy work of NASA probe Perseverance.

The experiment wasn’t a walk in the park, but it does sound pretty cool. The rover shot lasers at a rock face, then measured the length of time it took for the sound of the laser hitting the rock to reach a microphone.

Mars surface
Credit: NASA

As you’ve probably heard, in space, nobody can hear you scream. That isn’t exactly the case for Mars. People will hear you scream, just not as quickly as they would on Earth.

The rover found that the typical speed of sound on Mars was 240 m/s (869 kph), compared to the 343 m/s (1234.8 kph) that you would typically find on Earth.

The main difference between the two atmospheres is that on Mars, the temperature drops more than 22 degrees celsius from the ground to two meters in the air.

To gauge the average speed of sound between the ground and the two meter mark, NASA used a microphone that was 2.1 meters tall, and shot the lasers at ground level rocks.

So if you need to sit through a Jesse Eisenberg film, watch it on Mars, it’ll sound like he’s speaking at a normal pace.