The rising and falling of a passing dust devil on the ever-mysterious red planet was picked up by the microphone of a rover, and it is the first recording to date that is closest to the “real sound”.
Thanks to a new study led by Naomi Murdoch of Toulouse University, the team was able to record a Martian dust devil that passed through the Perseverance rover on the 27th of September last 2021.
Said rover has a masthead camera and a microphone that were strong enough to withstand the dust devil, which was reported to be 25 meters in diameter and at least 118 meters tall with a maximum speed of under 11 meters per second. On Earth, that would equate to a “fresh” to “strong” breeze.
In the sound recording that lasted 10 seconds, the wind from the dust devil can be heard rising towards the wall of the vortex and was immediately followed by a lull, which may have meant that it has met its eye. A second after, more wind noise can be heard trailing in the walls of the vortex that passed over.
Aside from the wind, the microphone was also able to pick up the dust grains that would fall and hit the over. Other sensors from the rover gave indications that the dust devil’s pressure fell to a minimum in-between the two bursts of wind noise.
As the atmosphere in space is much thinner than on Earth, the wind sound and sound recordings picked up in space by the microphone would sound much lower in pitch than they normally would.
Since astronauts cannot take off their spacesuits and helmets to really hear what Mars and space sound like, we could only rely on microphones in figuring out what that is. Nevertheless, without the aid of a microphone, we would be left wondering what space (in this case the dust devils of Mars) really sound like.
The sound recording of the dust devil picked up by the microphone is pivotal to how we can further understand planet Mars and space. These recordings and findings can potentially help mankind in research and help prevent potential risks or accidents.
Such is the case when a team placed an underwater microphone in the Pacific Ocean to help prevent whale-ship collisions and to record underwater pollution. Microphones are definitely helpful tools that can be used outside of the studio!
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