“Podcast” from the rover: new recordings of the red planet

Recently, the deputy director of the NASA scientific division shared with the public the news about the release of new recordings from the Perseverance. He suggested that the sounds of Mars will interest not only scientists and a wide audience, but also become the basis for the creativity of musicians.

Photo: Tomáš Stanislavský.  Source: Unsplash.com
Photo: Tomáš Stanislavský. Source: Unsplash.com

What they write

As the leaders of the mission said last year, the rover is equipped with two microphones. One to record sounds as the rover moves over the surface and when it lands [не удалось осуществить по техническим причинам]… The other is for ancillary analysis of soil samples and small-scale mineralogy, which Perseverance will do with a device called SuperCam… The latter is equipped with a laser and works with the environment in a non-contact manner at a distance of seven meters. The task of the microphone in this case is to provide scientists with additional information about how a particular sample behaves at the moment of exposure, so that they can clarify its mass and composition.

The duration of the “combat” microphone session accompanying the SuperCam action is only three and a half minutes. On records you can also hear the noise of the Perseverance itself, it can be used to diagnose potential problems, plus – natural sounds from the surface of the planet. The weight of the audio device is only 30 g.

According to the technology supplier – DPA Microphones – the DPA 4006 is used here, an omnidirectional microphone that pays the same attention to signals coming from different directions. It is fixed on the case rover together with amplifier and digital audio interface. Apart from special protection, the microphone was not finalized. [на сайте производителя есть комплекты для профессиональной звукозаписи]… However, it is not at all a fact that this is the reason for the malfunction at the landing stage – after all, the microphone activated even during the flight, and he felt great.

Interestingly, the B&K 4133 capsule, which predates the DPA 4006, is captured the atmosphere at the start of the Apollo 13 mission. Another DPA microphone used in the mission STS-63 for Discovery. The third “fun fact”: a musician from Los Angeles participated in the development of the project for Perseverance. Owl groupsspecializing in professional microphones and passionate about everything related to space exploration. In Wired released whole material about this person.

Representatives of the Russian-European Mars Exploration Mission statedthat the sound recording in this case is made solely for the purpose of attracting the attention of the general public and does not serve any practical purposes. However, they did not remove the microphone from their ExoMars-2022 project and plan to present similar recordings.

What comes out of it

Obviously, conditions on Mars are different from the usual. This is followed by differences in what can be heard. In simple terms, on the red planet, you need to be much closer to the sound source to get a comparable experience. To illustrate the “blind wall” effect, NASA prepared a special example page and interactive.

The Perseverance team has published on SoundCloud not only short recordings from the rover, but also a full-fledged release of a podcast in a scientific-pop format. An expert representing the project participates in it, and he recorded his track on the very same DPA 4006 – appreciate its sound


It is also worth noting that they tried to record the sounds of Mars using both Mars polar lander in 1999, and the Phoenix probe in 2008. But various circumstances failed to do this. However, the InSight apparatus nevertheless made it possible to achieve the goal, and NASA published nine entries


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