The US space agency NASA released the first audio from Mars on Monday, a slight crackling sound of the wind gust recorded by the Perseverance rover.
NASA also released the first footage of last week’s rover landing, a project to look for evidence of previous activity on the Red Planet.
The microphone did not function during the rover’s descent to the surface, but it was able to record audio as it landed on Mars.
The NASA engineers were playing a 60-second recording. “What you hear there 10 seconds in is an actual wind gust on the surface of Mars picked up by the microphone and sent back to us here on Earth,” said Dave Gruel, Perseverance’s lead camera engineer and microphone system.
The high-definition video shot, lasting three minutes and 25 seconds, shows the deployment of a red-and-white parachute with a 70.5-foot-wide (21.5-metre-wide) canopy.
T shows the heat shield breaking down after shielding Perseverance during its entrance into the Martian atmosphere and the rover’s landing in a cloud of dust in the Jezero Crater just north of the Red Planet equator.
“This is the first time we’ve ever been able to capture an event like the landing on Mars,” said Michael Watkins, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which oversees the mission.
“These are really amazing videos,” Watkins said. “We’ve been enjoying them all weekend.
Perseverance was launched on 30 July 2020 and landed on the surface of Mars on Thursday.
Its primary mission will last only over two years, but it is expected to stay active long after that. The ancestor, Curiosity, is still in service eight years after landing on Mars.
In the coming years, Perseverance will aim to gather 30 rock and soil samples in enclosed tubes that will be shipped back to Earth early in the 2030s for laboratory study.
About the height of the SUV, the craft weights a tonne, is fitted with a seven-foot robotic arm, has 19 sensors, two microphones and a suite of state-of-the-art instruments.
In its far past, Mars was colder even wetter, and while prior exploration was ongoing, Mars was colder and wetter in its distant history, and although earlier exploration had determined that the earth was habitable, Perseverance was charged with deciding if it was currently populated.
The first samples will begin to be drilled in summer, and new equipment will be deployed to scan organic matter, chart the chemical structure, and laser zap rocks for the analysis of vapour.
One experiment involves an instrument that can convert oxygen from Mars’ mostly carbon dioxide atmosphere, much like a plant.
The theory is that humans will inevitably not need to carry their own oxygen on potential future flights, which are important both for rocket fuel and for breathing.