Health

First audio recorded on Mars reveals two speeds of sound

PARIS: The primary audio recordings on Mars reveal a quiet planet with occasional gusts of wind the place two completely different speeds of sound would have a wierd delayed impact on listening to, scientists stated Friday.
After NASA’s Perseverance rover landed on Mars in February final yr, its two microphones began recording, permitting scientists to listen to what it’s like on the Pink Planet for the primary time.
In a examine printed within the Nature journal on Friday, the scientists gave their first evaluation of the 5 hours of sound picked up by Perseverance’s microphones.
The audio revealed beforehand unknown turbulence on Mars, stated Sylvestre Maurice, the examine’s predominant creator and scientific co-director of the shoebox-sized SuperCam mounted on the rover’s mast which has the principle microphone.
The worldwide group listened to flights by the tiny Ingenuity helicopter, a sister craft to Perseverance, and heard the rover’s laser zap rocks to check their chemical composition — which made a “clack clack” sound, Maurice informed AFP.
“We had a really localised sound supply, between two and 5 metres (six to 16 metres) from its goal, and we knew precisely when it was going to fireside,” he stated.
The examine confirmed for the primary time that the pace of sound is slower on Mars, travelling at 240 metres per second, in comparison with Earth’s 340 metres per second.
This had been anticipated as a result of Mars’ ambiance is 95 p.c carbon dioxide — in comparison with Earth’s 0.04 p.c — and is about 100 occasions thinner, making sound 20 decibels weaker, the examine stated.
However the scientists had been stunned when the sound made by the laser took 250 metres a second — 10 metres sooner than anticipated.
“I panicked slightly,” Maurice stated. “I informed myself that one of many two measurements was unsuitable as a result of on Earth you solely have one pace of sound.”
They’d found there are two speeds of sound on the floor of Mars — one for high-pitched sounds just like the zap of the laser, and one other for decrease frequencies just like the whir of the helicopter rotor.
Because of this human ears would hear high-pitched sounds barely earlier.
“On Earth, the sounds from an orchestra attain you on the similar pace, whether or not they’re low or excessive. However think about on Mars, in case you are slightly removed from the stage, there will likely be an enormous delay,” Maurice stated.
“All of those elements would make it troublesome for 2 folks to have a dialog solely 5 metres (16 toes) aside”, the French CNRS analysis institute stated in a press release.
It was in any other case so quiet on Mars that the scientists repeatedly feared one thing was unsuitable, the CNRS stated, presumably scary recollections of two failed earlier makes an attempt in 1999 and 2008 to report sound there.
“There are few pure sound sources aside from the wind,” the scientists stated in a press release linked to the examine.
The microphones did decide up quite a few “screech” and “clank” sounds because the rover’s steel wheels interacted with rocks, the examine stated.
The recording might additionally warn about issues with the rover — like how drivers sense one thing’s unsuitable when their automotive begins making unusual noises.
Maurice stated he felt the “scientific gamble” of taking microphones to Mars was successful.
Thierry Fouchet of the Paris Observatory, who was additionally concerned within the analysis, stated that listening to turbulence, resembling vertical winds often called convection plumes, will “enable us to refine our numerical fashions for predicting local weather and climate”.
Future missions to Venus or Saturn’s moon Titan might additionally now come geared up with microphones.
And Perseverance is much from finished eavesdropping. Whereas its core mission lasts simply over two years, it might stay operational properly past that — the Curiosity rover remains to be kicking 9 years right into a deliberate two-year stint.

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