We Will Get to Hear Mars for the First Time With Perseverance Rover
There have been 8 missions to the Red Planet so far, curious thing is, none of them relayed any audio to us yet. In 1996, Carl Sagan wrote to NASA "Even if only a few minutes of Martian sounds are recorded from this first experiment, the public interest will be high and the opportunity for scientific exploration real."
The first attempt at recording audio on Mars was the implementation of the Mars Polar Lander of NASA with a microphone. Unfortunately though, the spacecraft crashed after its launch in 1996. Then, in 2004, the Planetary Society tried their chances with the French Mars mission called Netlander, however, the mission got canceled. Later on, NASA's Mars Phoenix got equipped with a mic, but it had to be turned off before the launch due to technical issues. An unfortunate series of events, isn't it?
Not only one, two actually
Well, that's about to change, NASA's latest mission, Perseverance, comes with not only one, but two microphones.
The first microphone is a part of the EDL (entry, descent, and landing) system which ensures Perseverance safely lands on Mars' surface. Input delivered to this mic will be paired with EDL cameras to provide the public first-ever multimedia Mars landing experience.
The second microphone is an improved version of Curiosity's lasered measurement tool SuperCam. Perseverance will sport ChemCam around on the Red Planet's surface, just like its older version, ChemCam utilizes infrared laser bursts to heat and vaporize rocks and soil. As the laser does its job a camera will analyze the chemical composition of the vaporized materials and look for organic compounds. Where there's life, there are carbon-based organic compounds.
The sound coming from disintegrated rocks will give the scientist team clues about their composition. The onboard microphone will also record ambient audio while the rover is working and this offers another benefit for the team. Greg Delory, advisor on ChemCam's microphone says: "Hearing how the mast swivels, the wheels turn, or hearing how other instruments sound can also be an important engineering diagnostic tool."
We still don't know what exactly we're going to hear from the recordings. Do the Martian storms have thunders like those on Earth? Does the wind howl drearily on the lonely planet? We are yet to find out.
Advancing smart dust concepts is inhibited by a lack of equally small on-chip power sources that can function anytime and anywhere. Could this microbattery the size of a grain of salt be the solution?