HomeTechnologyMars rover captures the first sound of Dust Devil on the red...

Mars rover captures the first sound of Dust Devil on the red planet

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — What does a dust devil on Mars sound like? By chance, a NASA rover had its microphone turned on when a rotating tower of red dust passed directly overhead, recording the noise.

It sounds surprisingly similar to dust swirls on Earth, though quieter since Mars’s thin atmosphere produces muffled sounds and less strong winds, according to the researchers.

The dust devil came and went quickly with Perseverance last year, hence the short duration of the audio, said Naomi Murdoch of the University of Toulouse, lead author of the study appearing in Nature Communications. At the same time, the parked rover’s navigation camera captured images, while its weather-monitoring instrument collected data.

“Persy caught him red-handed,” said co-author German Martinez of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston.

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Photographed over decades on Mars but never heard of until now, dust eddies are common on the red planet. This one was in the average range: at least 400 feet (118 meters) tall and 80 feet (25 meters) wide, traveling at 16 feet (5 meters) per second.

The microphone picked up 308 pings of dust as the dust whirl passed, said Murdoch, who helped build it.

Since the rover’s SuperCam microphone turns on for less than three minutes every few days, Murdoch said it was “definitely lucky” that the dust devil turned up when it did on Sept. 27, 2021. She estimates there was only 1 in -200 chances to capture dust devil audio.

Of the 84 minutes collected in his first year, there is “only one dust devil recording,” he wrote in an email from France.

These recordings allow scientists to study the Martian wind, atmospheric turbulence and now dust movement like never before, Murdoch said. The results “demonstrate how valuable acoustic data can be in space exploration.”

In search of rocks that may contain signs of ancient microbial life, Perseverance has collected 18 samples. so far in Jezero crater, once the scene of a river delta. NASA plans to return these samples to Earth within a decade. The Ingenio helicopter has registered 36 flights, the longest with a duration of almost three minutes.

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