On Feb. 18, 2021, NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover landed on Mars. Its main job is to seek signs of ancient life and collect rock and regolith samples for a possible return to Earth.
The data it returns may also include some recorded sounds from Mars.
The rover carries a pair of microphones, through which it has provided the first audio recording of sounds from Mars. The microphone offers interesting and historical audio of the arrival and landing at Mars.
The atmosphere on Mars is only 1% as dense as Earth’s atmosphere at the surface and has a different makeup than ours. That’s the reason many things sound on Earth sounds different on the Red Planet. About 10 seconds into the 60-second recording, a Martian breeze is audible for a few seconds, as are the rover’s mechanical sounds operating on the surface.
Also, the camera on the rover captured thrilling footage of its landing in Mars’ Jezero Crater. The footage from high-definition cameras aboard the spacecraft starts 7 miles (11 kilometers) above the surface, showing the supersonic deployment of the most massive parachute ever sent to another world, and ends with the rover’s touchdown in the crater.
Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk said, “For those who wonder how you land on Mars – or why it is so difficult – or how cool it would be to do so – you need to look no further. Perseverance is just getting started and already has provided some of the most iconic visuals in space exploration history. It reinforces the remarkable level of engineering and precision that is required to build and fly a vehicle to the Red Planet.”
The Mars landing’s historical view begins about 230 seconds after the spacecraft entered the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere at 12,500 mph (20,100 kph).
Michael Watkins, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said, “Now we finally have a front-row view to what we call ‘the seven minutes of terror’ while landing on Mars. From the explosive opening of the parachute to the landing rockets’ plume sending dust and debris flying at touchdown, it’s awe-inspiring.”
Dave Gruel, a lead engineer for Mars 2020 Perseverance’s EDL camera and microphone subsystem at JPL, said, “We put the EDL camera system onto the spacecraft not only for the opportunity to gain a better understanding of our spacecraft’s performance during entry, descent, and landing but also because we wanted to take the public along for the ride of a lifetime – landing on the surface of Mars. We know the public is fascinated with Mars exploration, so we added the EDL Cam microphone to the vehicle because we hoped it could enhance the experience, especially for visually-impaired space fans, and engage and inspire people around the world.”
The rover team continues its initial inspection of Perseverance’s systems and its immediate surroundings.