For the first time ever, NASA has released audio captured from the surface of Mars. Monday, scientists and astronomers working with the Perseverance mission held a press conference to release a handful of new pictures and an audio clip of a Martian wind gust. The audio clip lasts 18 seconds and is the first of its kind in existence.
The audio was taken sometime on February 20th and is part of a larger 60-second clip that was transmitted back to NASA — the wind is the only significant audio on the clip, other than noises made from the Perseverance rover itself. Despite landing on the Fourth Rock From the Sun last Thursday, NASA has yet to give the rover a go-ahead to begin roaming Mars' Jezero Crater.
"For those who wonder how you land on Mars – or why it is so difficult – or how cool it would be to do so – you need look no further,” acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk said in a press release. “Perseverance is just getting started, and already has provided some of the most iconic visuals in space exploration history. It reinforces the remarkable level of engineering and precision that is required to build and fly a vehicle to the Red Planet.”
In the pictures released Monday includes a massive panoramic shot, showing Mars' red surface in its full rocky glory. Perseverance is on the planet in hopes of finding evidence of microbial life.
“We put the EDL camera system onto the spacecraft not only for the opportunity to gain a better understanding of our spacecraft’s performance during entry, descent, and landing, but also because we wanted to take the public along for the ride of a lifetime – landing on the surface of Mars,” Dave Gruel, lead engineer for Mars 2020 Perseverance’s EDL camera and microphone subsystem at JPL, added. “We know the public is fascinated with Mars exploration, so we added the EDL Cam microphone to the vehicle because we hoped it could enhance the experience, especially for visually-impaired space fans, and engage and inspire people around the world.”
Perseverance was launched on July 30, 2020 and the first phase of the mission — Mars 2020 — will last one full Mars year, which is equal to roughly 687 days on Earth. Over the course of the next decade, NASA has at least three separate missions planned to help further their scientific motivations.
If all goes to plan, the first samples from the Martian planet could make their way back to Earth sometime in 2031.