Ever since Perseverance landed and got underway, we’ve been keeping a close eye on what NASA’s rover can tell us. We have already seen the first high-resolution photos and now what it shows us is what it sounds like to move around Mars.
A curiosity that, although it does not represent any kind of scientific milestone, is still the first time that we can hear a vehicle moving around the Red Planet. And it’s certainly not the quad-like or, shall we say, terrestrial sound we would expect, starting with the metal wheels and ending with the rocky terrain the rover has been traversing.
In addition to carrying the same processor as the 1998 iMac, Perseverance also integrates a high-sensitivity microphone with which it has captured its time on Mars. NASA is now making public the approximately 16 minutes of the rover’s driving on the Martian surface.
It’s a 27.3-metre walk through the Jezero crater on 7 March. The truth is that it is nothing like what our car does on rocky terrain.
It is an almost eerie sound, not very pleasant, but according to the agency it is normal. What we hear is the interaction of the rover’s mobility system (the wheels and suspension) against the surface alternating with this tearing sound (less pleasant and high-pitched), the origin of which is still being studied. It seems that this could be due to electromagnetic interference from one of Perseverance’s electronic circuits, or from the same interactions with the surface as the other sounds.
These sounds are in addition to those already captured by Perseverance from the Martian winds, with another microphone that is part of the SuperCam, which is used to study the structure and composition of rocks (partly looking for traces of life). In addition to all this, the rover has been looking for a landing site for the accompanying helicopter and according to NASA it is already located, so flight tests will soon begin.
With all this we know the rover a little better and we can say that we are hearing something about 56 million kilometres away. It is not Vivaldi’s Spring, but these are curiosities that have their technological value.