First sounds recorded on surface of Mars by Nasa Insight probe

An illustration of the In Sight lander its sensors cameras and instruments

NASA's InSight lander, which touched down on the Red Planet in late November, is giving us new insights into the sounds created by the planet's winds. Shown are the lander's arm (top), its 2.2 metre wide solar panel, one of its two TWINS temperature and wind sensors (left of centre), its UHF antenna (bottom centre), its SEIS seimometer (bottom left), and the white dome (centre left) now covers its pressure sensor.

"Capturing this audio was an unplanned treat", said InSight principal investigator, Bruce Banerdt. Cornell University's Don Banfield told reporters they reminded him of "sitting outside on a windy summer afternoon.in some sense, this is what it would sound like if you were sitting on the InSight lander on Mars".

The sound of the wind is similar to what wind, or maybe crashing waves, would sound like on Earth. These are the first sounds from Mars that are detectable by human ears, according to the researchers.

We know what Mars looks like, but there's a lot of mystery around what Mars sounds like. "A haunting low rumble" was recorded by the rover, which detected the vibrations from wind blowing across its large solar panels.

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What's even more exciting about InSight's fascinating discovery is that the NASA team were not even planning on capturing the previously unheard wind.

The craft's air pressure sensor recorded the winds as well, according to NASA, and that audio is increased by a factor of 100 so that it's audible. The air pressure sensor, part of the Auxiliary Payload Sensor Subsystem (APSS), which will collect meteorological data, recorded these air vibrations directly. "It's like InSight is cupping its ears and hearing the Mars wind beating on it", he said.

'The solar panels on the lander's sides are ideal acoustic receivers, ' Prof Pike said. This robotic arm will soon come in handy when it's finally time for the spacecraft to deploy its SEIS seismometer and HP3 heat flow probe - "the only instruments ever to be robotically placed on the surface of another planet", notes NASA.

This is the only phase of the mission during which the seismometer, called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), will be capable of detecting vibrations generated directly by the lander.

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