How researchers recorded the sounds of a Martian dust devil for the first time

Five stacked panoramas of the Martian landscape. The top photo shows the dust devil (represented by purple and yellow dots) 100 meters away. The dust devil gets closer in the subsequent images.
A dust devil captured by instruments on the Perseverance rover. From the study authors: “These are images taken of the direct dust devil encounter by the rover’s Navigation Camera (Navcam). The images have been processed to show the quantity of dust. The colour scale ranges from lowest dust content (blue) to highest dust content (yellow).” | Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute/ISAE-SUPAERO

On September 27th, 2021, a dust devil whirled past the Perseverance rover on Mars. The rover not only caught the dust devil on its cameras and with its weather sensors but also picked up the faint, eerie sounds of the dust devil on its microphone, the first instrument of its kind to record sounds on Mars.

“We were convinced that the microphone was going to give us a whole load of new observations of atmospheric features on Mars that we hadn’t been able to see before,” Naomi Murdoch of the University of Toulouse, lead author of a Nature Communications paper about the research, said to The Verge. “And we haven’t been disappointed!”

Rovers have been exploring Mars for decades with cameras, spectrographs, and weather sensors, giving us a…

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Author: Georgina Torbet