What would you hear if you went to Mars?

  If you could go to the surface of Mars, what would you hear? While eight Mars missions have beamed back stunning photos of Martian vistas from the surface of the Red Planet, none have returned any Martian sounds. Now, that’s about to change: NASA’s Perseverance rover, which searches for signs of ancient life on Mars, has collected and preserved dozens of Martian samples and has two microphones on board.
  One microphone will hear the sound of the Perseverance rover as it descends through the Martian atmosphere, and the other microphone will record the sound of the rover’s science work in Jezero Crater, an ancient river delta , where life may once have flourished. If all goes well, Perseverance’s microphone will fulfill the wish of Planetary Society co-founder Carl Sagan, who wrote a letter to NASA in 1996 urging it to send the microphone to Mars.
  Sagan writes: “Even if the first experiment recorded only a few minutes of Martian sounds, public interest would be high and the chances of real scientific exploration would be high.” Before Perseverance, at least three Mars missions had microphones in their designs. The first flew to Mars in 1999 aboard NASA’s Mars Polar Lander, sponsored by The Planetary Society, and became the first crowdfunded scientific instrument to fly to another planet. Polar lander crashed on surface, but more attempts are to follow. However, so far, no success.
  ”The voice of Mars has long fascinated the public, so The Planetary Society has embraced and pursued it,” said Planetary Society Chief Scientist Bruce Bates. “It goes back to our early ideas of promoting space science to the public.” , so this concept of engaging our senses with another world in a whole new way is something The Planetary Society has always believed in, and now we want it to actually come to fruition.”
Perseverance’s Microphone

  One of Perseverance’s two microphones is part of the Entrance, Descent and Landing (EDL) system. Audio from this microphone will be paired with full-color video from the EDL camera, which will give viewers their first taste of what landing on Mars would look and sound like. The second microphone is included in the rover’s “Supercam” science instrument, a next-generation version of the Curiosity rover’s laser-heated “Chemcam.” Like its predecessor, the supercam uses infrared laser beams to heat and vaporize rocks and Martian soil. A special camera can then determine the chemical composition of the evaporated material and detect the presence of any organic compounds, the various carbon-based compounds we know make up the proteins of life.
  When a supercam laser heats a rock, the resulting pops will give scientists clues about the rock’s composition. Greg Drori, CEO and co-founder of space hardware company HeliSpace, said: It can record the sound of the rover at work. Drori was an advisor to the Supercam microphone team and helped design the Planetary Society’s original Mars microphone. The Mars microphone, which can hear how a mast is turned, how a wheel is turned, or how other instruments make sounds, is an important engineering diagnostic tool.
  Perhaps the microphone’s most anticipated feature: It will also record the sounds of Mars itself. So will we hear the roar of Martian winds? Do Martian storms produce thunder like they do on Earth? In the mid-1990s, UC Berkeley planetary scientist Janet Luhmann came up with the idea of ​​a Mars microphone: “I’ve been involved in Mars science and Mars mission planning for a few years now, and I’ve become curious as to why no one has put the voice As part of our quest to achieve perception with robots?”
History’s first Martian microphone

  Luhmann and several fellow scientists at UC Berkeley’s Space Science Laboratory set out to explore the idea, using off-the-shelf components like hearing aid microphones, and in NASA’s Ames Research Center’s Mars Wind Tunnel, in similar The idea was tested under the conditions of Mars. The results were promising, and the Berkeley scientists began to think that NASA might be willing to fly the microphone to Mars as a ride-hailing instrument. Luhmann approached the Planetary Society about sponsoring a Mars microphone and realized that The public interest value of an instrument.

Curiosity rover

  But when the idea was presented to the Science Advisory Board of NASA’s Mars Polar Lander Mission, it all fell through. The committee did not consider this to be of any scientific value. “It’s reminiscent of the early days of planetary missions, when the first Pioneer and Mariner spacecraft didn’t have cameras because imaging technology at the time It was just a stunt, not high tech. It’s hard to imagine that now, but the advisory committee at the time decided that hearing sounds on Mars was also just a stunt. Around the same time,
  NASA Administrator Dan Gore Ding launched an initiative that promotes the idea of ​​scientific cooperation between the Indonesian company RKA and NASA on future Mars missions, while the two countries have established a new partnership on the International Space Station. Therefore, a research The RKA lidar instrument for dust in the Martian atmosphere is installed on the Mars polar lander. Friedman and Luhmann then asked Lidar principal investigator Vyacheslav Linkin if he would be interested in adding a tiny Mars microphone to the instrument, getting affirmative answer.
Make the first Mars microphone

  The Planetary Society raised $100,000 to create a Mars microphone, backed by a surge of public interest in hearing Martian sounds. Drori, who was one of Luhmann’s colleagues at Berkeley at the time, joined the project and led the technical effort to integrate the microphone unit onto the lidar without any changes to the instrument’s power, volume, and weight distribution. Adjustment. The original Mars microphone was built as a smart little box measuring about 5cm on a side and weighing 50g. The microphone is built for extreme environments, and the researchers tested it enough to see just how tough it is.

  The research team ran every test imaginable on the microphone device, using vacuums, heat chambers and shaking tables to make sure it could launch, cruise, land and operate in the harsh environment of Mars, and in every mode they set up down to work. Having integrated and tested with the lidar, when they attached the microphone to the lander it worked flawlessly. Meeting NASA’s data constraints on the microphones proved a challenge, and the team worked extra hard to improve the electronics that process and manage the recordings.