NASA Releases Martian Sound Playlist Taken by Perseverance Rover

By Gabrielle Haag

NASA has just released a five-hour long playlist of sounds captured on the surface of Mars by its Perseverance rover. The audio files provide essential insight into how sound waves travel across the surface as well as help the science team determine the kinds of atmospheric interference present on the planet. For those of us here on Earth, this is an unprecedented opportunity to hear what Mars itself sounds like so head on over to NASA’s playlist to have a listen!

In February of 2021, the Perseverance rover landed on Mars to conduct a series of excursions aimed at finding out if Mars has ever held life in microbial form, both now and in the past. Alongside its complex selection of tools, the rover is also equipped with two relatively simple microphones which have been used to record the first audio from Mars.

One microphone is part of the rover’s SuperCam instrument, mounted at the top of the rover’s mast. SuperCam beams a laser at distant targets to help determine what they’re composed of and scientists have also taken the time to record the sounds of the laser hitting a chosen target. Differences in the sounds produced by different targets provides scientists with data that hinta at the kinds of rocks, masses and materials that the laser is interacting with. The sound is reminiscent of a gas stove being turned on with a distinct clicking.

SuperCam : image courtesy of NASA

The second off-the-shelf commercial microphone is mounted to the side of the rover and is used to record the sounds of atmospheric entry, descent, and landing. The microphone experienced challenges recording audio during atmospheric entry but still managed to survive in order to record audio files from the surface of Mars. Not bad for an off-the-shelf option!

Secondary Microphone: image courtesy of NASA

The second microphone has since recorded a host of truly fascinating sounds such as the eerie keen of the wind blowing across the surface and interacting with the rover’s frame. You can also listen to the sounds of the mission’s Ingenuity helicopter taking off!

As more data is captured, the mission is looking to record how sound begins to change on Mars as the seasons change. With an already thin atmosphere, the current sounds supply scientists with a baseline to track changes in sound in order to help determine how higher-frequency sounds travel faster than lower-frequency noise on Mars.

We can’t wait for more data to come available! In the meantime, check out the playlist of Martian sounds from Perseverance, here.

Want to learn more about sounds on Mars? Check out NASA’s full Mars playlist, here.

Watch a video of the Ingenuity helicopter taking off on Mars, here!