InSight Lander Sends the Sound of Wind on Mars

View of robotic arm

Humans can now hear the haunting, low rumble of wind on Mars for the first time, after NASA's InSight lander captured vibrations from the breeze on the Red Planet.

When the sensors pick up vibrations from InSight's solar panels, the whole spacecraft acts like a giant microphone.

The seismometer readings are in the range of human hearing, but are almost all bass and hard to hear on laptop speakers and mobile devices.

A second track is a little easier to hear since NASA processed it to make more audible. Playback is suggested on a sound system with a subwoofer or through headphones.

NASA also released an audio track from InSight's air pressure sensor, with the data sped up by a factor of 100 to bring it into human hearing range. 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. "But one of the things [the InSight mission] is dedicated to is measuring motion on Mars, and naturally that includes motion caused by sound waves".

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"Humans are multisensor people, and now we have two of our sensors turned on with this mission", with both audio and visual data streaming back to Earth, Don Banfield, the science lead for the air pressure sensor, said during the news conference. Additionally, NASA reported that the winds were likely blowing from the northwest in the direction of the southeast, the way the streaks in the landing area seem to move as well.

InSight landed on Mars November 26 after seven months and 300 million miles en route.

"To me, the sounds are really unworldly", Banerdt said.

'It's like InSight is cupping its ears'. "What you're hearing now should get a lot quieter", Pike said.

Both recorded the Martian wind in different ways. Those listening on a laptop or their phone might not be able to hear the original sound of the wind blowing across the lander's solar panels because the pitch is so low. "It just gives another way of thinking about how far away [we are when] we're getting these signals".

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