NASA's InSight probe listens to Martian winds - BBC News

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Average captionThe seismometer data has been increased by two octaves to make it more audible (better with headphones)

A British instrument has captured the "sound" of the wind on Mars.

The package of the British seismometer carried on the NASA InSight lander detected the vibrations of the Martian air as it rushed over the solar panels of the probe.

"The solar panels on the sides of the lander are perfect acoustic receivers," said Professor Tom Pike, who leads the seismometric experiment from Imperial College London.

"It's as if InSight cupped his ears."

Prof Pike compares the effect to a flag in the wind. As a flag breaks the wind, it creates oscillations in frequency that the human ear perceives as slamming.

A pressure sensor that is part of the InSight meteorological experiment also recorded wind flow.

Scientists estimate that the air moved between five and seven meters per second, from the northwest to the southeast. This adapts to satellite images that show the traces left by dust devils traveling in the same direction.

NASA's InSight space probe is the last robot on the red planet. After making a dramatic touchdown on November 26 after a six-month trip from Earth, the probe is now examining its surroundings and testing its systems.

The ultimate goal of the mission, located on a plain north of the equator of Mars, is to study the interior of the world.

In addition to the seismometers, InSight is equipped with a heat probe that will dig into the ground and a very sensitive radio experiment that will measure the way the planet oscillates on its axis.

The data should reveal the location and nature of all rocky layers below the surface of Mars – from the crust to the core. This is information that can be compared and contrasted with the Earth.

The recording of the wind is something that will soon be beyond the British seismometers, known as the Seismic Experiment for the internal structure or SEIS.

In a few weeks, the package will be lifted to the ground by a robotic arm and covered with a windproof shield. This bell-shaped device protects SEIS from the elements and allows the sensors to concentrate on their main task of detecting earthquakes, or better "earthquakes".

Co-investigator Dr Neil Bowles, from the University of Oxford, said: "Getting the first data from the seismometer instrument package was fantastic and even with a short test the analysis is now at its best.

"To" hear "the low frequency rumble of the Martian wind on the lander being captured by [SEIS] it's really disturbing and provides a strangely human connection with this very different environment. "

InSight: mission of the heart of Mars

The UK space agency has invested £ 4 million in the seismometer package.

The head of space exploration of the organization, Sue Horne, said: "This is brilliant news because it means that the sensors have survived the rigors of landing on Mars and meet the requirements to achieve their scientific goals.

"It's simply incredible to hear the first sounds of Mars."

The audio recordings released to the public are almost completely unaffected. In some cases, a couple of octaves have been increased to make them more perceptible to the human ear.

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