NASA is going on its 10th Mars mission tomorrow, sending its Perseverance rover to explore the planet and its soundscape. It begs the question, what will Mars sound like? Will we hear whirling winds displacing the sandy surface? Lightning striking within sandstorms? Or something completely unexpected? Only time will tell, and there’s not too long left to wait.
The spacecraft will launch from Florida and is expected to touch down next year on February 18 in the planet’s Jezero crater — an ancient river delta where life may have flourished, to which it will then begin to investigate the geology of its surroundings and ultimately assess any signs of past life.
NASA’s Perseverance rover launches tomorrow, where it will investigate the geology and soundwaves of Mars in the quest to discover signs of past life.
At least three attempts have been made since 1999 to send a microphone to Mars, but none have been successful. “Waiting for the first sound from Mars will be exciting…to be able to add another sense to our understanding of Mars is going to be incredible”, says Louis Friedman, the astronautics engineer and driving force behind the Mars Microphone.
Send me to Mars, I’m about tired of Earth. pic.twitter.com/hN7VrXEE4n
— PSNFox (@psn_fox) July 29, 2020
If all goes to plan, two microphones onboard the spacecraft will capture audio of its descent and then ultimately the soundscape of the Red Planet. As some of you may remember from high-school science (or forgotten completely), sound is a mechanical wave that requires a medium to travel through. And although space is extremely empty, there are still particles dotted around that can transmit sound waves, especially in denser regions around planets.
These microphones will help scientists to determine the composition of rocks by their popping sound and aid maintenance checks on the rover’s instruments, but perhaps their greatest appeal is in getting the long-awaited answers of what Mars itself sounds like.