Mar 17, 2021 - Science

Listen to Perseverance take a drive on Mars

Tracks trailing out behind the Perseverance rover with rising mountains in the distance on Mars

Perseverance making tracks on Mars. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

For the first time, NASA has captured the sound of one of its rovers driving along the surface of Mars.

Why it matters: These audio recordings can be used for scientific as well as engineering purposes, like diagnosing possible problems with the rover as they pop up.

  • “A lot of people, when they see the images, don’t appreciate that the wheels are metal,” Vandi Verma, a rover driver at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement. “When you’re driving with these wheels on rocks, it’s actually very noisy.”

Details: Over 16 minutes of audio — which include the crunching of Martian rocks under the rover's wheels — were captured on March 7 during Perseverance's 90-foot drive.

  • Scientists are now searching for the source of a "high pitched scratching noise" also heard on the recording, which might be caused by electromagnetic interference or the rover's wheels and suspension, according to NASA.
  • “If I heard these sounds driving my car, I’d pull over and call for a tow,” Dave Gruel, a Perseverance team member said in the statement. “But if you take a minute to consider what you’re hearing and where it was recorded, it makes perfect sense.”

The big picture: Perseverance previously captured the sounds of the rover using its laser to analyze an interesting rock and recorded the blowing wind on Mars.

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