“Mars is a very quiet planet”

Selfie of the Perseverance jeep with the Ingenuity helicopter, in the Jezero Crater. / NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS

Science | Space

The peculiarities of its atmosphere would make a conversation between two people separated by only 5 meters very difficult, says astrophysicist Ricardo Hueso

Mars sounds weird. "As it has a very thin atmosphere and is made up mostly of carbon dioxide, sound is transmitted and behaves in a different way than on Earth," explains Ricardo Hueso. 'Nature' publishes today the first study of the sounds of the red planet, based on recordings from the two Perseverance microphones and in which Asier Munguira, who is doing his doctorate at the Bilbao School of Engineering under the supervision of Sánchez Lavega, has participated and Bone.

On Earth, sound travels at about 340 meters per second, but on the neighboring world it is around 240 meters per second. “On our planet, it does so at the same rate regardless of frequency. On Mars, this is not the case: different frequencies are transmitted at different speeds. It would be almost impossible to recognize complex sounds like a melody with instruments playing bass and treble at the same time," says Hueso.

On Mars, sound decays rapidly with distance. “Two people would have difficulty having a conversation at a distance of just 5 meters. A conversation with a normal tone of voice, without shouting, would be totally inaudible at 10 meters. And a human scream could spread as little as a few tens of metres."

The two Perseverance microphones have recorded the sound of the wind in the Jezero crater, that of the blades of Ingenuity in flight, that of the MOXIE compressor –the experiment that has extracted oxygen from atmospheric carbon dioxide–, that of the wheels of the SUV moving and the laser hitting the rock. "Mars is a very silent planet," says the UPV/EHU astrophysicist. So much so that, early in the mission, some scientists feared the microphones had broken.

Source link