Haunting Sounds From Mars Sent Back by NASA Craft

Pablo Tucker
December 8, 2018

NASA's InSight lander touched down on Mars 10 days ago, and has already sent its first pictures.

InSight lander's sensors are created to detect quakes and air pressure through wind vibrations. This sensor recorded the vibrations directly while the seismometer recorded the vibrations of the movement the wind caused in the solar panels. The air pressure sensor, part of the Auxiliary Payload Sensor Subsystem (APSS), which will collect meteorological data, recorded these air vibrations directly.

Image from NASA's InSight showing the surface of Mars.

The mission is an example of our successful space sector making a difference to worldwide science.


Once the deployment is complete, InSight's measuring instruments and probes will hopefully give us more data about Mars's interiors, including the planet's seismic tremors and how heat flows through its structure. The seismometer will be moved to the Martian surface in the coming weeks; until then, the team plans to record more wind noise. NASA shared two copies of the wind recording, one as it was captured and another adjusted for playback on phones and laptops.

This is brilliant news because it means we know the sensors have survived the rigours of landing on Mars and are meeting the requirements to achieve their science goals.

The wind sound can be heard on the video above.

SEIS includes three Short Period sensors (SEIS SP) developed in partnership by Imperial College London, Oxford University and STFC RAL Space, with £4 million in funding from the UK Space Agency.


'The solar panels on the lander's sides are ideal acoustic receivers, ' Prof Pike said. It's like InSight is cupping its ears.

The Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC), located on the robotic arm of NASA's InSight lander, took this image of the Martian surface the day the spacecraft touched down on the Red Planet, and was relayed from InSight to Earth via NASA's Odyssey spacecraft, now orbiting Mars, on November 26, 2018.

NASA describes the sounds as a "haunting low rumble".

Both audio samples have been released to the public nearly completely unaltered.


An upcoming mission, the Mars 2020 rover, will have two microphones on board for clearer sound recording. It will also record the sound of the instrument's laser as it zaps different materials, helping to identify the material based on the sound it makes.

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