Thanks to Perseverance being the first Mars rover to take two dedicated microphones to Mars we have not only had the first sounds recorded on Mars but the speed of sound on Mars has been calculated for the first time and we now know it is very different to the one on Earth.
As reported in Nature, the speed of sound on Mars is 240 meters per second (540 miles per hour), significantly lower than Earth’s own 340 m/s, which is a rough estimate due to how quickly varying conditions can affect it.
On Mars, the speed of sound changes even more abruptly, for example, changes in conditions such as dramatic drops in temperature of tens of degrees from ground level to 2 meters from the surface. These can account for up to 10 percent of changes in the speed of sound.
The sound of the wind, captured last year, is eerie. Or, as our Senior Video Editor described it, “Wonderfully atmospheric [sorry for that], like something from The Thing.” Certainly a compliment to Ennio Morricone who composed the movie's theme, as the wind has something of the “nature imitating art.”
Another incredible soundscape from Mars is actually of human creation. Perseverance's science partner pal, the Ingenuity helicopter, which has now completed its incredible 24th flight, can be heard flying about in the thin Martian atmosphere – which is just 1 percent as dense as ours.
This also marked the first time a spacecraft on another world recorded the sound of another spacecraft nearby. Just another of Perseverance's many firsts on the Red Planet.