As you might recall, the robot touched down on the red planet on Nov. 26, much to the excitement of NASA scientists, some of whom performed a handshake that went viral. The robot traveled for six months through space in order to study seismic activity on Mars.
In a stroke of luck, the sound recordings were captured, not by a microphone, but by the robot’s air pressure sensor as Martian wind blew against the machine’s instruments and solar panels. Scientists were pleasantly surprised to find that they were within the range of human hearing. You can listen for yourself in the video clip below.
Although some have described the sound recordings as “unworldly,” anyone who’s ever experienced hurricane-level winds probably won’t be blown away (pun intended) by the NASA recordings. To our untrained ears, they sound similar to ocean waves or a windstorm on Earth.
However, there are reported differences between how a Martian windstorm would feel if you were there in person. For instance, while the movie “The Martian” depicted a deadly windstorm on the planet, a 100-mph wind on Mars would actually feel like the equivalent of an 11-mph windstorm on Earth.
That is, it probably wouldn’t be able to cause as much damage as the film depicted.
This Mars recording is not the first time sound has been recorded on another planet. Soviet spacecraft reportedly made recordings of sounds from the surface of Venus in the 1980s. NASA had also previously tried to send microphones on other Mars landers but was unsuccessful with making recordings on those missions, losing one lander in a crash and having to keep one microphone turned off on the other.
It’s reported that NASA’s next launch in 2020 will have a microphone included, so hopefully we will be able to hear more from the surface of Mars in the near future.