Nasa InSight Mars lander records alien 'wind' - the first sound ever captured on the red planet

Asher Mcshane
Evening Standard
The Insight rover captured new amazing images from the surface of Mars and recorded 'wind': NASA/JPL-Caltech
The Insight rover captured new amazing images from the surface of Mars and recorded 'wind': NASA/JPL-Caltech

Nasa's new Mars lander has captured the first sounds audible to humans that have ever been recorded on the red planet.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory released audio clips of the alien wind, which is estimated to be blowing between 10mph to 15mph.

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The low-frequency rumblings were collected by the InSight lander during its first week of operations on Mars.

These are the first sounds from Mars that are detectable by human ears, according to the researchers.

"Reminds me of sitting outside on a windy summer afternoon ... In some sense, this is what it would sound like if you were sitting on the InSight lander on Mars," Cornell University's Don Banfield told reporters.

Scientists involved in the project agree the sound has an otherworldly quality to it.

Thomas Pike, of Imperial College London, said the rumbling is "rather different to anything that we've experienced on Earth, and I think it just gives us another way of thinking about how far away we are getting these signals".

The noise is of the wind blowing against InSight's solar panels and the resulting vibration of the entire spacecraft.

The sounds were recorded by an air pressure sensor inside the lander that is part of a weather station, as well as the seismometer on the deck of the spacecraft.

The low frequencies are a result of Mars' thin air density and even more so the seismometer itself - it is meant to detect underground seismic waves, well below the threshold of human hearing.

The seismometer will be moved to the Martian surface in the coming weeks; until then, the team plans to record more wind noise.

The 1976 Viking landers on Mars picked up spacecraft shaking caused by wind, but it would be a stretch to consider it sound, said InSight's lead scientist Bruce Banerdt, of JPL in Pasadena, California.

InSight landed on Mars on November 26.

"We're all still on a high from the landing last week ... and here we are less than two weeks after landing, and we've already got some amazing new science," said Nasa's Lori Glaze, acting director of planetary science.

"It's cool, it's fun."

Earlier today NASA released stunning new images from Mars taken by the InSight lander.

The Instrument Deployment Camera caught glimpses of a ten-sided solar panel with the dusty red surface of the celestial body in the background.

Other pictures capture gritty outlooks of the planet's surface and the metallic body of InSight, while some show the desolate expanse surrounding the lander.

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