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NASA's InSight has been the talk of the town ever since it landed on Mars' surface after "seven minutes of terror." The lander has been taking pictures of the Red Planet's surface and plans to unload the scientific instruments it brought along to the planet.
But the lander also has done something that no other lander on Mars did. InSight has recorded the sound of the wind on Mars. "Capturing this audio was an unplanned treat," Bruce Banerdt, InSight's principal investigator, said in a statement. "But one of the things our mission is dedicated to is measuring motion on Mars, and naturally that includes motion caused by sound waves."
#Mars, I hear you and I’m feeling the good vibrations left in the wake of your Martian winds. Take a listen to the #SoundsOfMars I’ve picked up. 🔊— NASA InSight (@NASAInSight) December 7, 2018
More on https://t.co/auhFdfiUMg pic.twitter.com/shVmYbfHRs
The air pressure sensor and the seismometer on the InSight picked up the sound of the winds. The air pressure sensor detected the vibrations caused due to the air, while the seismometer recorded these vibrations caused by the Martian wind blowing across InSight's solar panels, which the scientists estimate was blowing at 10-15 MPH.
"The InSight lander acts like a giant ear," said Tom Pike, who's part of the InSight science team. "The solar panels on the lander's sides respond to pressure fluctuations of the wind. It's like InSight is cupping its ears and hearing the Mars wind beating on it. When we looked at the direction of the lander vibrations coming from the solar panels, it matches the expected wind direction at our landing site."
NASA released the audio of the wind sounds recorded by InSight. The agency recommends using headphones or a subwoofer since the pitch is quite low.
The seismometer recording is only possible until the InSight is placed onto the Martian surface. After that, a dome will protect it from wind and scientists will actively filter out vibrational noise originating from the lander. This is because seismometer's main objective is to monitor marsquakes.
You can expect InSight to record more audio in the coming days. When the Mars 2020 rover lands on the planet, its two microphones on board will record even more sounds.