researchers on Mars captured the very first sound of an extraterrestrial whirlwind, thanks to the mic aboard NASA’s Perseverance rover. The study was led by planetary scientist Naomi Murdoch along with a group of scientists at the National Higher French Institute of Aeronautics as well as Space and NASA published in Nature Communications.
The instrument team driving the find is headed by Roger Wiens, professor of earth, planetary and atmospheric sciences at Purdue University’s College of Science. He’s the chief investigator of Perseverance’s SuperCam, a set of applications which include the microphone, cameras, spectrometers and advanced remote sensing instruments.
“sound can teach us a lot more about the best way to make use of sound,” Wiens said. They get their readings at regular times. ” This particular microphone enables us to sample almost 100,000 times a second, not quite at the rate of sound. It enables us to comprehend Mars better. “
The microphone isn’t on continuously; It records about 3 minutes every couple of days. Wiens stated he was lucky, although not unanticipated, in obtaining the whirlwind recording. In Jezero Crater, where Perseverance landed, the team has noticed evidence of nearly 100 dust devils, tiny tornadoes of dust and grit, since the rover landed. This’s the very first time the mic has been on when the rover is passed over.
The audio recording of the dust devil, combined with readings of the air pressure as well as time-lapse photography, helps scientists understand the Martian atmosphere and weather.
“We can watch the pressure drop, pay attention to the wind, then have a little bit of silence that will be the eye of the tiny storm, after which audibly hear the wind again and see the pressure rise,” Wiens said. Everything happened in a couple of seconds. “The wind is fast – about 25 miles per hour, but not as quick as you would see in a dust devil on Earth. The distinction is the fact that the air pressure on Mars is almost as powerful as the winds on Earth, pushing the same speed with about 1 % of the pressure the same wind would have at the same altitude. It’s not much of a powerful wind, but obviously enough to send particles of grit into the atmosphere to create a dust devil. “
The new information indicates that future astronauts will not need to worry about gale-force winds blowing down antennas or habitats, so future Mark Watneys won’t be left behind, though the wind will have some benefits. The breezes blowing grit from the solar panels of other rovers, particularly Spirit and Opportunity, might be what made them last so very long.
“Those rover teams could see a gradual decline of power over a number of days to weeks, then a jump,” the report said. “the wind cleared away the solar panels in that time,” Wiens explained.
The lack of such dust and wind devils in the Elysium Planitia where the Insight mission landed could help explain exactly why that mission is ending.
“Just like on Earth, you will find various atmospheric conditions on Mars,” Wiens stated in a statement. “Using all our tools and instruments, particularly the mic, will help us get a tangible sense of what it really will be like being on Mars.”