Sci-tech

NASA's InSight lander 'hears' wind on Mars

NASA's InSight lander 'hears' wind on Mars

Specialist aerospace Agency Bruce Banerdt said that the Mars machine does not have the objective to hear something like that, but audio can really speak of a "certain sound waves on Mars".

"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".

"Today we can see the first glimpses of our workspace", Bruce Banerdt, the mission's principal investigator, said in a statement. "But one of the things [the InSight mission] is dedicated to is measuring motion on Mars, and naturally that includes motion caused by sound waves". However NASA promise an even clearer sound of the Red Planet is coming with the Mars 2020 rover that will have two microphones on board.

A second version of the audio was also released with the audio pitched slightly higher, where the sound is more perceivable to the human ear.

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These images will help mission team members determine where to set InSight's seismometer and heat flow probe - the only instruments ever to be robotically placed on the surface of another planet. The first is an air pressure sensor inside the lander, which collects "meteorological data".

This is called SEIS, and it listens to the pulse of the planet. The seismometer recorded lander vibrations caused by the wind moving over the spacecraft's solar panels, which are each 7 feet (2.2 metres) in diameter and stick out from the sides of the lander like a giant pair of ears. The lander will measure whether tremors have the same effect as earthquakes. "But we know that everything is a little different for the lander on Mars, so faults are not unusual", Hoffman said.

There are more scheduled recordings to come from the surface of Mars. The raw images the craft sends back to NASA are hosted on the InSight mission site where anyone can take a look at them all and see what the craft's instruments see while on Mars.


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