Perseverance, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's latest Mars rover, has sent back recordings of sounds of it driving around the planet.
The rover recorded audio during a drive earlier in March - many creaks and rattles created by the six-wheeled robot as it rolled over Mars' red surface.
"A lot of people, when they see the images, don't appreciate that the wheels are metal," Vandi Verma, a senior engineer and rover driver at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said in a statement. "When you're driving with these wheels on rocks, it's actually very noisy."
According to NASA, Perseverance's entry, descent and landing microphone captured more than 16 minutes of audio during the March drive - which covered 90 feet (27.3 meters) of Mars' 28-milewide Jezero Crater. The microphone also documented the Martian wind.
Perseverance has a second microphone. The SuperCam mic has already captured the wind and the snaps generated by the instrument's rock-vaporizing laser.
The microphone and SuperCam recordings are bringing Mars to Earth in a whole different way: no robot has ever recorded true audio on the planet's surface until now.
According to mission team members, the audio files can help with models of the planet's atmosphere and help engineers track Perseverance's health. The details from the SuperCam's snaps will reveal essential characteristics about zapped rocks - such as their hardness and if they are coated.
Soon, we will be able to hear more dramatic, ground-breaking audio from one or both mics. The mission team is preparing to fly Ingenuity, the tiny helicopter that flew to Mars on the belly of Perseverance. The rover's sharp-eyed Mastcam-Z camera system will track Ingenuity's test flights, and the microphone teams say they will attempt to record the flights.
Perseverance is just getting started at Jezero - which was once a lake and river delta. When Ingenuity is launched it will begin working on its core task - searching for traces of life and gathering samples.
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