Mars Perseverance rover captures first sounds of driving on Red Planet

Mars Perseverance rover captures first sounds of driving on Red Planet

NASA has released the first-ever recordings of a vehicle driving across Mars

The Mars Perseverance rover’s metal wheels banged as it shuffled through the rocky terrain, heard in a pair of newly released audio clips.

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Two versions of the 90-foot drive on Mar. 7 — recorded using the rover’s entry, descent, and landing (EDL) microphone — were presented to the public in a Wednesday news release

The first version is the “raw cut.” At more than 16 minutes long, listeners can hear the rover’s mobility system, as well as a high-pitched scratching that engineers believe is sourced from either electromagnetic interference or interactions between its suspension and the surface.

The release notes that the EDL microphone had not been intended for surface operations and had undergone limited testing before launching.

The second version lasts for just 90 seconds and filters out some of the noise from the unfiltered cut. 

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“If I heard these sounds driving my car, I’d pull over and call for a tow,” said Mars 2020 EDL camera and microphone subsystem’s lead engineer Dave Gruel. “But if you take a minute to consider what you’re hearing and where it was recorded, it makes perfect sense.”

On March 10, NASA also released clips from its SuperCam microphone in which both Martian wind and the sound of the instrument’s laser zapping rocks could be heard.

Perseverance has been undergoing extensive testing since it landed on Mars on Feb. 18 in preparation for its next missions. 

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The rover has begun to search for a suitable flight zone for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter to attempt its first flight tests, and on Wednesday NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced it had selected a location.

Then, Perseverance will begin its hunt for signs of ancient microbial life in earnest.