NASA Releases Audio of Haunting Wind and Laser Strikes on Mars

The new recordings reveal the eerie soundscape of the red planet.
March 10, 2021, 9:34pm
Perseverance's SuperCam. Image: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/CNES/CNRS/LANL​
Perseverance's SuperCam. Image: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/CNES/CNRS/LANL

On Wednesday, NASA released the first audio of winds and laser strikes on Mars captured by the Perseverance rover’s SuperCam microphone.

Though NASA had previously released a short clip of a breeze last month, which was picked up by another microphone built into the entry, descent, and landing (EDL) camera system, the new track provides a cleaner recording of the eerie Martian gales that now surround Perseverance. The audio was recorded on February 19, about 18 hours after the rover made its daring touchdown in Jezero Crater. 

In a tweet, the Perseverance mission noted that the microphone is embedded at the top of the rover’s mast, which was still stowed in its landing position when this audio was captured. That explains why these early sounds are a bit muffled.

In addition to the extraterrestrial winds, Perseverance also recorded the acoustic clicks of its own laser shots as they hit a target about 10 feet away. The rover shot these laser blasts at a rock named Máaz, which is the Navajo word for “Mars,” on March 2. Scientists use the laser to study nearby Martian formations, as variations in the sounds can reveal details about its texture and other properties.

These audio recordings are the first to capture the breezy noises at the surface of Mars, but NASA’s InSight probe has recorded seismic waves from within the red planet that have been modified into audible frequencies.  

These newly dropped recordings are just the latest evidence that Perseverance is already busy at work on Mars. The rover took its first test drive on March 4, leaving its inaugural wheel prints on the Martian surface. The mission has also been taking scores of photos of the view from its landing site, which has been officially named after the influential science fiction author Octavia E. Butler.