Science

Listen to the sounds on Mars, courtesy of NASA's InSight mission

Listen to the sounds on Mars, courtesy of NASA's InSight mission”

NASA's InSight lander arrived on Mars in 2018, after which the team spent months carefully surveying its surroundings and deploying a suite of instruments that will peer inside the red planet.

NASA's InSight's "ear" is so sensitive that it is able to pick up vibrations of a breeze.

There's also an indication of how Mars affects the seismometer itself. Seismic activity can paint a picture of the interior of a planet and how it was formed, which is one of InSight's main objectives for Mars.

The NASA InSight took this photo of the surface of Mars using its robotic arm-mounted, Instrument Deployment Camera after touching down on the surface of the planet, November 26, 2018.

And even then, something odd happened.

In April, InSight recorded its first ever marsquake - "faint rumbles" that "appear to have come from the inside of the planet", according to NASA.

InSight has now measured more than 100 rumblings since then, including 21 that are considered actual quakes. JPL sped up all the signals by 10 times to bring them into the range of human hearing. It's more evidence of how much Mars and Earth have in common, and yet how distinct they've become over billions of years. Martian quakes are caused by cooling and contraction, which create stress fractures on the crust. The team is always on the hunt for quakes, but they've found the twilight hours are one of the best times to listen for marsquakes.

The Insight team has noticed that, particularly at night, the instrument picks up unusual sounds that they refer to as "dinks and donks", according to the statement.

"It's been exciting, especially in the beginning, hearing the first vibrations from the lander", Constantinos Charalambous, an InSight science team member at Imperial College London who works with the SP sensors, said in a statement from NASA.

"You're imagining what's really happening on Mars as InSight sits on the open landscape". If you keep listening, you might also hear a unusual whistling sound, which the team thinks might be caused by interference in the instrument's electronics, according to the statement.

But nightfall comes with its own unique sounds.

The French seismometer is so sensitive it can hear the Martian wind as well as movements by the lander's robot arm and other "dinks and donks", as the team calls them. The researchers think there is interference with the electronics in the seismometer.

This is partly meant to show off InSight's technology.

Unlike Curiosity and the upcoming Mars 2020 mission, InSight is non-mobile. Scientists are trying to salvage the experiment to measure the planet's internal temperature.



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