National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA) has released the sound of lasers recorded by the Perseverance rover on Mars’ Jezero crater. The audio clips posted on NASA’s Soundcloud page were recorded by the microphone attached to the SuperCam mounted on the Perseverance rover.
The acoustic recording of laser shots on Mars sounds more like a continuous snap, instead of a ‘pew pew’ sound effect we have listened to in movies. The sound was produced from the laser hitting a rock.
The other two sound recordings shared by the US Space Agency, include the first recording on Mars and wind blowing on the surface. As expected, the sound of the wind is very different from Earth due to the atmospheric pressure on the Red Planet. The sound recording is muffled and almost sounds as if it was recorded in the ocean while deep diving. NASA also shared how common sounds on Earth, like birds chirping, bells or whistles will be almost inaudible on Mars.
“These recordings have demonstrated that our microphone is not only functioning well, but we also have a very high-quality signal for our scientific studies,” SuperCam team member Naomi Murdoch, a researcher at the Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace in Toulouse, France, said during a live webcast.
“In the SuperCam team, we’re extremely excited about the perspectives and the scientific investigations that we’re going to be able to do with the microphone data,” Murdoch said.
Did you know? Some sounds that we’re used to on Earth, like whistles, bells or bird songs, would be almost inaudible on Mars.
Learn more in the “Sounds of Mars” episode of our Curious Universe podcast.
— NASA (@NASA) March 10, 2021
The sound of laser captured was of SuperCam firing zapping on a rock target named Maaz on March 2. This led to the generation of shockwaves due to heat and vibration of rock vapourisation which was recorded by the instrument.
Murdoch says that the sound of snaps will help to determine the hardness of the rock whereas the spectrometer and camera will help reveal details about the composition. For example, the rock zapped by the SuperCam has a basaltic composition which is common on both Earth and Mars. However, it is not yet clear whether the rock was volcanic or not.
The SuperCam is capable of firing laser at a target up to 23 feet. This will help scientists rock composition at the Jezero crater when the rover began its journey. The crater is 45km wide and was home to an ancient river. The samples collected will help scientists understand the history of the crater and whether life existed on the planet or not.