NASA’s In­Sight lan­der ‘hears’ wind on Mars

Sci­en­tist from NASA says sens­ing wind was an un­planned treat

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - SCITE H - —AFP

Hu­mans can now hear the haunt­ing, low rum­ble of wind on Mars for the first time af­ter NASA’s In­Sight lan­der cap­tured vi­bra­tions from the breeze on the Red Planet, the US space agency said Fri­day.

The strong gusts of wind, blow­ing be­tween 10 to 15 mph (five to seven me­ters a sec­ond), were cap­tured as they moved over the so­lar pan­els on In­Sight, an un­manned lan­der that touched down on Earth’s dusty, des­o­late neigh­bour Novem­ber 26.

Two sen­sors picked up the vi­bra­tions: an air pres­sure sen­sor in­side the lan­der and a seis­mome­ter on the lan­der’s deck, wait­ing to be de­ployed to the sur­face by In­Sight’s robotic arm.

“This is the very first fif­teen min­utes of data that have come from the short pe­riod seis­mome­ter,” said Thomas Pike, lead in­ves­ti­ga­tor at Im­pe­rial Col­lege Lon­don, dur­ing a con­fer­ence call with re­porters.

“It’s a lit­tle like a flag wav­ing in the wind,” he added.

“It re­ally sounds oth­er­worldly, and that is ex­actly what it is.” In­Sight is de­signed to study the in­te­rior of Mars like never be­fore, us­ing seis­mol­ogy in­stru­ments to de­tect quakes and a self-ham­mer­ing mole to mea­sure heat es­cape from the planet’s crust.

Sens­ing the wind, which moved from north­west to south­east at around 5 pm lo­cal time, was “an un­planned treat,” said Bruce Ban­erdt, In­Sight prin­ci­pal in­ves­ti­ga­tor at NASA’s Jet Propul­sion Lab­o­ra­tory in Pasadena, Cal­i­for­nia.

NASA’s Vik­ing 1 and 2 lan­ders also picked up sig­nals of the Mar­tian wind when they landed in 1976.

They were mea­sur­ing it at lower sam­pling rates, how­ever, not fre­quen­cies that would be audi­ble, and did not re­turn sounds that peo­ple could lis­ten to.

“Per­son­ally, lis­ten­ing to the sounds from the pres­sure sen­sor, re­minds me of sit­ting out­side on a windy sum­mer af­ter­noon, lis­ten­ing to the tur­bu­lent gusts come and go and whis­tle through your ears,” said Don Ban­field, a re­searcher at Cor­nell Univer­sity.

“In some sense, this is what it would sound like if you were sit­ting on the In­sight lan­der on Mars.” An au­dio track of the Mar­tian wind is avail­able on www. nasa.gov/in­sight­mar­swind.

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