NASA’s Perseverance rover is the space agency’s first Mars rover equipped with microphones, enabling it to record sounds from beyond our planet. NASA intends to use one of these microphones to record the rover’s landing on the Red Planet, but recently fired it up during the trip in space to get a 60-second recording.
NASA launched its Perseverance rover this summer; it will arrive on Mars in February, bringing with it new tools for studying the planet, as well as a tiny helicopter. The rover features multiple microphones, one of which is called the ‘EDL.’ The tool’s name refers to its purpose: NASA will use it to record the rover’s Entry, Descent, and Landing on the Red Planet.
On October 19, NASA’s team fired up the EDL microphone on Perseverance during a check of the rover’s camera and microphone system. A one-minute audio clip was recorded and has now been made available for the public to listen to on the space agency’s SoundCloud account.
The rover is currently in space, which isn’t the best place to pick up audio, NASA notes. However, the microphone can pick up the vibrations experienced by the payload, giving it some audio to record. This sound file was processed by the Danish company that made the EDL microphone hardware.
In addition to the novelty of getting an audio file recorded in space, NASA notes the true importance of the recording: it shows that the EDL microphone works. When Perseverance arrives at Mars early next year, the microphone will pick up all the sounds of the rover landing, including the parachute releasing and the wheels hitting the land.