One of the coolest things about NASA’s new InSight lander that recently arrived on Mars is that it’ll be able to listen closely to sounds generated deep underground. It has the potential to teach us a lot about how Mars works. Before that happens, NASA has to prepare the robot to begin using its powerful instruments. and in doing so the Jet Propulsion Laboratory actually captured the sounds of wind whipping across the dusty Martian surface.
In a new video, JPL explains that InSight’s onboard seismometer began to detect vibrations. The team ultimately determined that the vibrations were the result of wind hitting the robot’s solar panel array and causing them to shake. NASA recorded the vibrations and now you can listen to them yourself.
As the video explains, the pitch of the sound is extremely low and can barely be heard unless you have headphones on and the volume cranked up. A filter that raises the pitch of the sound by two octaves makes it much easier to hear.
The result is a recording that sounds a bit like what you’d hear if you cupped your hands over your ears in a brisk wind.
But NASA didn’t stop there. A separate instrument that measures air pressure recorded the same gusts and sent them back to Earth. The video includes that recording as well, sped up and filtered so that it’s easier to hear.
It’s pretty cool to be able to hear wind from another planet, even if it sounds exactly like wind here on Earth. It’s also a great demonstration of InSight’s capabilities, and a showcase of how powerful and sensitive its instruments truly are. In the near future, JPL will command the robot to deploy its sensors on the ground around its base and that’s when the real fun will begin.