This Is What A Dust Devil Sounds Like On Mars
Swirling columns of dust — known as dust devils — are fairly common on Mars, but for the first time ever one of NASA’s rovers managed to record the sound of one passing right over it. It’s another piece of data that helps expand our understanding of the red planet.
Listen To The Dust Devil
Why This Matters
Recordings like this can help scientists better understand the planet’s meteorology, surface changes and how grains of dust are sent aloft on a planet with such a thin atmosphere.
While NASA's Perseverance rover recorded the dust devil on September 27, 2021, audio of the encounter is just now being published Nature Communications.
How This Recording Got Made
In 2021, NASA’s Perseverance rover touched down and began its search for ancient microbial life. Equipped with a suite of tools called SuperCam, it can zap rocks and analyze their molecular makeup, giving us a peek into Mars’s past. It's also equipped with a microphone, which happened to be active when the dust devil passed over.
Here's a look at an animation of dust devil capture on camera by Curiosity in 2020 courtesy JPL.
Why Things Sound Different On Mars
Because the atmosphere’s so thin and mostly made up of carbon dioxide, sound doesn’t travel nearly as far as it does here on Earth, especially at higher frequencies.
“You basically could not hear a person a block away,” said Roger Wiens, the Principal Investigator of the SuperCam instrument. “We really do turn up the volume, you could say, on this microphone.”
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