discover the muffled and muted sound of Mars captured by the microphone made in Toulouse for the Perseverance probe

The famous magazine “Nature” has published a study of the sounds recorded by the Perseverance robot on Mars. 6-hour recordings thanks to the microphone design of Toulouse-based space technology leader, which allows you to know the properties of the sound of the red planet.

By examining the sound atmosphere on the planet Mars, NASA was not convinced of the interest. The first microphone of Perseverance (the rover back to explore the red planet) was installed level with the chassis. The other developed by engineers from Isae-Supaéro in Toulouse in collaboration with the American laboratory Los Alamos was placed on one of the 7 scientific instruments called the SuperCam.

The English magazine “Nature” has published a study of sounds recorded on Mars.

When we listen to the sounds recorded on Mars, we perceive a cozy and quiet universe. The noise on this planet is strongly attenuated and hardly propagates. In fact, it’s like listening to a concert played on Earth, but heard as at the bottom of the oceans with an almost deafening sound.

It reveals the review the sounds on Mars carry less far than on Earth, and that the high frequencies (the treble) go faster than the bass, which can cause distortions. The heights are lost very quickly in the atmosphere, faster than the low ones. Sounds like bells, birdsong or whistles would not be heard on Mars. Sounds are attenuated by 20 dB from their ground level.

Scientists have shown that sound moves slower on Mars: 240 meters per second against 340 m / s on Earth. Then the volume is lower.

Let’s imagine a conversation about Mars. Not easy for the slightly deaf. The sound seems muted and calling a neighbor more than 5 meters away is impossible due to the low propagation of sounds.

All this can be explained by the characteristics of the atmosphere: 96% CO2 on Mars compared to 0.04% on Earth, which consists mainly of oxygen and nitrogen. But CO2 molecules are known to absorb high-frequency sounds and prevent these noises from spreading.




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The first sounds from the planet Mars recorded thanks to the Perseverance robot



© Nasa

The Mars sound is pretty quiet, which sometimes makes you wonder if the microphones installed on Perseverance worked well! In addition to the wind, the sound sources are quite rare, if we exclude the recorded sounds related to the activity of the robot, which also makes it possible to make a diagnosis of its state of health and its good function.

If these discoveries fascinate you, it is possible to go and listen to part of the 6 hour recording directly on NASA’s website. You can even make a small playlist!

The sound of the wind on Mars recorded on February 22, 2021, but where we mainly hear the noise from the rover.




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The sound of the wind on Mars



© Nasa

For the first time, a spacecraft on the planet Mars has recorded the sound of another separate spacecraft. The perseverance rover used the SuperCam microphone to record the Ingenuity helicopter. Admission of 30 April 2021.




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A helicopter in full flight recorded on Mars



© Nasa

NASA engineers detected the Perseverance rover as it crossed part of the Jezero crater on Earth.




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The sound of Rover driving on Mars



© Nasa

All of this can seem fun, especially since you can record your voice on NASA’s website (max. 10 seconds) and hear it on the planet Mars! These amazing sounds are far from anecdotal to understanding other planets.

If man one day lived on Mars, these studies would not be in vain and would have made it possible to better understand the planet. For future flights, American or not, the sound element should be considered more in the light of these discoveries. The SuperCam microphone weighs only 13 kg. A featherweight to write and describe the sound atmosphere of the red planet.

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