NASA’s Perseverance rover has recorded and sent back the first ever sounds of driving on Mars. The rover has been taking rides on Mars and recording what those drives sound like.
The rover recorded a 16 minute raw feed and sent back to NASA. Odd scratching noises can be heard on the recording. They released two versions of the audio clip on March 17 to the public on NASA’s Perseverance Rover Twitter account.
“A lot of people, when they see the images, don’t appreciate that the wheels are metal,” said Vandi Verma, a senior engineer and rover driver at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
Perseverance’s engineering team continues to evaluate the source of the scratching noise, which may either be electromagnetic interference from one of the rover’s electronics boxes or interactions between the mobility system and the Martian surface.
“If I heard these sounds driving my car, I’d pull over and call for a tow,” said Dave Gruel, lead engineer for Mars 2020’s EDL Camera and Microphone subsystem. “But if you take a minute to consider what you’re hearing and where it was recorded, it makes perfect sense.”
The rover has also been searching for a suitable airfield for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter to attempt its first flight tests. Now that the right spot has been found, the Perseverance and Ingenuity teams are making plans for the rover to deploy the helicopter, which will have 30 Martian days, or sols (31 Earth days), to complete up to five test flights.
The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.