Mars Rover records the very first sound of a dust devil

Mars Rover records the very first sound of a dust devil

What does a Mars dust devil sound like? A NASA rover’s microphone happened to be on when a tower of red dust flew straight overhead, capturing the commotion.

It is around 10 seconds of winds of up to 25 miles per hour and the pinging of hundreds of dust particles against the rover Perseverance. Tuesday, scientists published the first audio of its sort.

According to the researchers, it sounds very similar to dust devils on Earth, albeit it is quieter since Mars’ thin atmosphere produces softer sounds and less powerful wind.

According to Naomi Murdoch of the University of Toulouse, principal author of the Nature Communications study, the dust devil passed fast over Perseverance last year, which explains the short duration of the audio. Simultaneously, the rover’s navigation camera captured photographs as its weather monitoring sensor collected data.

According to co-author German Martinez of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, “Persy caught it red-handed.”

Dust devils, which have been seen for decades on Mars but never known about until today, are abundant on the red planet. This one measured at least 400 feet in height and 80 feet in width while moving at 16 feet per second.

The microphone detected 308 dust pings when the dust devil passed, according to Murdoch, who helped construct it.

NASA noted on Tuesday that capturing a passing dust devil requires a certain amount of luck. “Scientists cannot anticipate when they will pass by, therefore rovers such as Perseverance and Curiosity constantly scan in every direction. When scientists observe that dust devils occur more frequently at a specific time of day or approach from a certain direction, they target their monitoring efforts to capture one.”

Given that the rover’s SuperCam microphone is activated for less than three minutes every few days, Murdoch stated that the dust devil’s appearance on September 27, 2021, was “certainly fortunate.” She estimates that there was a 1 in 200 probability of catching audio of a dust devil.

There is only one dust devil recording among the 84 minutes captured in the first year, she noted in an email from France.

The same microphone on the mast of Perseverance captured the first noises from Mars, the Martian wind, shortly after the rover landed on Mars in February 2021. The primary purpose of the microphone was to record the rover’s rock-zapping lasers.

Murdoch stated that these recordings enable scientists to examine the Martian wind, atmospheric turbulence, and now dust movement like never before. The findings illustrate the importance of sound data in space exploration.

Perseverance has gathered 18 samples from Jezero Crater, which was formerly a river delta, in search of rocks that may hold indications of ancient microbial life. In a decade, NASA intends to return these samples to Earth. The Ingenuity has completed 36 flights, with the longest lasting over three minutes.

In 2012, NASA obtained a photograph of a 12-mile-high dust devil.


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