Hear the Very First Sounds Ever Recorded on Mars, Courtesy of NASA

Pre­dict­ing the state of the world in 2014 after a vis­it to the 1964 World’s Fair, Isaac Asi­mov wrote that “only unmanned ships will have land­ed on Mars, though a manned expe­di­tion will be in the works and in the 2014 Futu­ra­ma will show a mod­el of an elab­o­rate Mar­t­ian colony.” While we haven’t seen a Futu­ra­ma show in some time (oth­er than the one cre­at­ed by Matt Groen­ing), he was cer­tain­ly right about those unmanned ships, the lat­est of which, four years after the one about which he proph­e­sied, has just picked up the first sounds ever record­ed on the Red Plan­et. You can hear it, prefer­ably with the use of a sub­woofer or a pair of capa­bly bass-repro­duc­ing head­phones, in the video above.

“That’s the sound of winds blow­ing across NASA’s InSight lan­der on Mars, the first sounds record­ed from the red plan­et,” writes the New York Times’ Ken­neth Chang. “It’s all the more remark­able because InSight — which land­ed last week — does not have a micro­phone.”

Instead it picked up this rum­ble, which NASA describes as “caused by vibra­tions from the wind, esti­mat­ed to be blow­ing between 10 to 15 mph (5 to 7 meters a sec­ond),” with its seis­mome­ter and air pres­sure sen­sor right there on Mars’ Ely­si­um Plani­tia where it land­ed. “The winds were con­sis­tent with the direc­tion of dust dev­il streaks in the land­ing area, which were observed from orbit.”

Sci­ence fic­tion enthu­si­asts will note that InSight’s record­ing of Mar­t­ian wind, espe­cial­ly in the more eas­i­ly audi­ble pitched-up ver­sions includ­ed in the video, sounds not unlike the way cer­tain films and tele­vi­sion shows have long imag­ined the son­ic ambi­ence of Mars. NASA did­n’t launch InSight to test the the­o­ries implic­it­ly pre­sent­ed by Hol­ly­wood sound design­ers — rather, to col­lect data on the for­ma­tion of Mars and oth­er rocky plan­ets, as well as to check for the pres­ence of liq­uid water — but they will equip the next Mar­t­ian lan­ders they send out in 2020 with prop­er micro­phones, and not just one but two of them. Among oth­er sci­en­tif­ic tasks, writes Big Think’s Stephen John­son, those micro­phones will be equipped to “lis­ten to what hap­pens when the craft fires a laser at rocks on the sur­face.” Back here on Earth, one ques­tion looms above all oth­ers: which musi­cian will be the first to sam­ple all this?

via Big Think

Relat­ed Con­tent:

NASA Puts Online a Big Col­lec­tion of Space Sounds, and They’re Free to Down­load and Use

NASA Dig­i­tizes 20,000 Hours of Audio from the His­toric Apol­lo 11 Mis­sion: Stream Them Free Online

Hear the Declas­si­fied, Eerie “Space Music” Heard Dur­ing the Apol­lo 10 Mis­sion (1969)

Video: The Min­utes Before & After the Land­ing of the Mars Curios­i­ty Rover

Ray Brad­bury Reads Mov­ing Poem on the Eve of NASA’s 1971 Mars Mis­sion

NASA Releas­es a Mas­sive Online Archive: 140,000 Pho­tos, Videos & Audio Files Free to Search and Down­load

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.


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