NASA’s In­Sight lan­der ‘hears’ Mar­tian wind

The Sunday Guardian - - World - IANS

LOS AN­GE­LES: InNASA’s In­Sight lan­der, which touched down on Mars on Novem­ber 26, has pro­vided the first ever “sounds” of Mar­tian wind on the Red Planet, the NASA said.

In­Sight sen­sors cap­tured a haunt­ing low rum­ble caused by vi­bra­tions from the wind, es­ti­mated to be blow­ing be­tween 10 to 15 mph (5 to 7 me­tres a se­cond) on 1 De­cem­ber, from north­west to south­east, NASA said on Fri­day. Cit­ing NASA, Xin­hua news agency re­ported the winds were con­sis­tent with the di­rec­tion of dust devil streaks in the land­ing area, which were ob­served from or­bit. “Cap­tur­ing this au­dio was an un­planned treat,” said Bruce Ban­erdt, In­Sight prin­ci­pal in­ves­ti­ga­tor at NASA’s Jet Propul­sion Lab­o­ra­tory in Pasadena, Cal­i­for­nia. “But one of the things our mis­sion is ded­i­cated to is mea­sur­ing mo­tion on Mars, and nat­u­rally that in­cludes mo­tion caused by sound waves.” Ac­cord­ing to NASA, two very sen­si­tive sen­sors on the space­craft de­tected these wind vi­bra­tions: an air pres­sure sen­sor in­side the lan­der and a seis­mome­ter sit­ting on the lan­der’s deck, await­ing de­ploy­ment by In­Sight’s robotic arm. The two in­stru­ments recorded the wind noise in dif­fer­ent ways. The air pres­sure sen­sor, which will col­lect me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal data, recorded these air vi­bra­tions di­rectly. The seis­mome­ter recorded lan­der vi­bra­tions caused by the wind mov­ing over the space­craft’s so­lar pan­els, which are each 7 feet (2.2 me­tres) in di­am­e­ter and stick out from the sides of the lan­der like a gi­ant pair of ears. This is the only phase of the mis­sion dur­ing which the seis­mome­ter, called the Seis­mic Ex­per­i­ment for In­te­rior Struc­ture (SEIS), will be ca­pa­ble of de­tect­ing vi­bra­tions gen­er­ated di­rectly by the lan­der, said NASA. nSight landed safely at Ely­sium Plani­tia on Mars on Novem­ber 26, kick­ing off a two-year mis­sion to ex­plore the deep in­te­rior of the Red Planet.

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