(CTN NEWS) – CAPE CANAVERAL – On Mars, what noises do dust devils make? Unexpectedly, a swirling tower of red dust flew directly above a NASA Mars Rover with its microphone activated, which captured the noise.
It lasts for roughly 10 seconds and includes hundreds of dust particles pinging on the Perseverance Mars Rover and rumbling gusts of up to 25 mph (40 kph). Scientists on Tuesday provided the original audio.
Doubling up! I’ve taken a second sample of loose material from this sandy ripple. #SamplingMars this way adds a new dimension to my other rock cores. See why both engineers and scientists could learn a lot from this material: https://t.co/rEAPXwoejj pic.twitter.com/QrsGUZiaar
— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) December 8, 2022
According to the researchers, it sounds similar to dust devils on Earth, albeit quieter due to Mars’ thin atmosphere, which produces more subdued sounds and less ferocious wind.
According to Naomi Murdoch of the University of Toulouse, the study’s lead author, the dust devil passed over Perseverance swiftly last year, which accounts for the audio’s brief duration.
The parked rover’s navigation camera was taking pictures at the same time that its weather-monitoring device was gathering information.
According to co-author German Martinez of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, “Persy caught it red-handed.
New achievement unlocked! After taking 15 rock cores and one atmospheric sample, I now have my third sample type: “regolith” (loose, sandy material). This specialized, hollow drill bit is another great tool for #SamplingMars.
— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) December 5, 2022
“Dust devils are a typical occurrence on Mars and have been seen on camera for decades, but no one has ever heard of them.
With a height of at least 400 feet (118 meters), a width of 80 feet (25 meters), and a speed of 16 feet (5 meters) per second, this one was in the average range.
According to Murdoch, who worked on its construction, the microphone captured 308 dust pings as the dust devil sped by.
Murdoch said it was “certainly fortunate” that the dust devil occurred when it did on September 27, 2021, given that the rover’s SuperCam microphone is only activated for less than three minutes every few days.
She calculates that the likelihood of recording dust-devil audio was only one in 200.
There is “just one dust devil recording” out of the 84 minutes gathered in its first year, she noted in an email from France.
Soon after the Mars Rover’s landing in February 2021, the same microphone on Perseverance’s mast recorded the first noises from Mars, specifically the Martian wind.
Following that was audio of the rover moving around, its accompanying chopper, tiny Ingenuity, flying close, and the microphone’s primary sound source, the crackle of the rover’s rock-zapping lasers.
According to Murdoch, the Martian wind, atmospheric turbulence, and now dust movement can all be studied by scientists never like before, thanks to these recordings.
The findings “show how important acoustic data may be for space exploration.”
At Jezero Crater, historically the site of a river delta, Perseverance has gathered 18 samples from rocks that may hold evidence of ancient microbial life.
NASA intends to bring these samples back to the planet in ten years. The Ingenuity helicopter has completed 36 flights, the longest of which lasted over three minutes.
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