Scientists record the first sound recording of Mars dust devils.
Convective vortices laden with dust are common on Mars’ surface, especially at Jezero Crater, where the Perseverance Rover landed. They serve as an indicator of atmospheric turbulence, and provide an important lifting mechanism for Martian dust cycles.
The Perseverance rover was the first to land on Mars with a working microphone. Scientists have now used it to record the first audio recording of an extraterrestrial whirlwind.
Roger Wiens is a professor of Earth, atmospheric, and planetary sciences at Purdue University’s College of Science. He said that sound can teach us more than other tools. They collect readings at regular intervals.
We can sample at almost 100,000 times per second, although not at the speed of sound. It gives us a better understanding of Mars’s characteristics.
The microphone now records for three minutes every few days instead of recording continuously. Wiens stated that the whirlwind recording was not unexpected and was a fortunate result. Perseverance landed in Jezero Crater on March 31, and the crew found evidence of approximately 100 dust devils, which are tiny dust particles and grit tornadoes. As one passed by the rover, the microphone was activated for the first time.
The dust devil sound record, along with time-lapse photos and air pressure measurements, aids in understanding the Martian atmosphere and weather.
Wiens stated, “We could observe the pressure drop, listen to the wind, then have some silence that is part of the eye of the little storm, then hear the wind again, and watch the pressure rise.” This all took only a few seconds. It is very fast, at 25 miles an hour. However, it is not as fast as you might see in a dust devil’s eye.
It is because Mars has a lower air pressure than Earth’s winds, but it is just as fast. Mars pushes at about 1% the same speed as Earth’s wind. Although it’s not strong wind, it is enough to lift particles of grit into air to create a dust devil.
The information indicates that future astronauts will not have to worry about gale force winds tearing down antennae and habitats. This means there won’t be any Mark Watneys.
The wind may even offer some advantages. Wind may have also helped other rovers, such as Opportunity and Spirit, to last longer because of the grit that was blown off their solar panels.
Wiens stated, “Those rover teams would see a gradual decline in power over a few days to weeks, then a jump. This was when the wind cleared the solar panels.
“Just like Earth, Mars has different weather. We can get a sense of the reality on Mars by using all our instruments, including the microphone.