The sound of the wind on Mars has been captured for the first time by Nasa's InSight lander, which touched down on the red planet 10 days ago. Shown are the lander's arm (top), its 2.2 metre wide solar panel, one of its two TWINS temperature and wind sensors (left of centre), its UHF antenna (bottom centre), its SEIS seimometer (bottom left), and the white dome (centre left) now covers its pressure sensor.
"Capturing this audio was an unplanned treat", said Bruce Banerdt, the InSight principal investigator at Nasa's lab in Pasadena, California.
InSight, which landed on 26 November 2018, will study the inside of Mars to learn how planets, moons and meteorites with rocky surfaces, including the Earth and its Moon, formed.
This spectrogram shows the first data collected by one of the three sensors on InSight's short-period seismometer.
The "really unworldly" sounds from InSight, meanwhile, have Banerdt imaging he's "on a planet that's in some ways like the Earth, but in some ways really alien". "It's going to become very hard to hear the sounds from the outside of Mars later on".
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But while the instruments on InSight can capture data in human-friendly frequencies, higher-pitched sounds don't travel well on Mars. As well, this was something of a lucky acquisition, as NASA says it is the only part of InSight's mission where these sounds could have been recorded passing over the rover.
An air pressure sensor and a seismometer recorded the noise through the vibrations in the air and vibrations around the aircraft "caused by the wind moving over the spacecraft's solar panels". The air pressure sensor recorded the vibrations directly from changes in the air.
The seismometer will be moved to the Martian surface in the coming weeks; until then, the team plans to record more wind noise. These sensors can detect motion at sub-atomic scales, which includes the wind on Mars, which is barely within the lower range of human hearing.
This is the only time during the mission that the seismometer - called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, or SEIS - is capable of detecting these sounds.
Keep watching for more to come from InSight!