Seismometer carried by NASA’s Insight lander that has recently landed on Mars has managed to capture sounds of wind on the planet as it rushed through the solar panels on the probe. The seismometer was designed by Imperial College of London and its team leader Prof Tom Pike stated that the solar panels on its sides are acoustic receivers that create oscillations when winds speed through it. The pressure sensor which is part of Insight’s meteorological equipment also recorded the flow of wind on Mars which scientists estimate was at five to seven meters per second. Their deductions were verified by tracks left by the dust devils that were going in the same direction.
The Insight spacecraft is latest robotic instrument on Mars which made a touchdown on 26th November after a six-month long journey from earth. The probe is now exploring its surroundings and testing the weather conditions after which it will study the planet’s interior layout. Insight has a heat probe that will burrow into the ground with a sensitive radio to check how it moves on its axis and this data will reveal the position and nature of rock layers below its surface. These details can then be compared and contrasted with earth’s layout.
After a few weeks the seismometer will be lifted from the ground by a robotic arm and covered by windshield to protect it from weather and concentrate on more important tasks like detecting quakes that would rightly be called “marsquakes”. The UK Space Agency which built the seismometer package spent £ 4 million and its heat of space exploration Sue Home was very excited with the capture of Mars winds as these sounded eerily familiar. The audio recordings of the Mars winds have been released to the public without any alterations though it has been raised a few octaves to make it perceptible to human ears.