The Perseverance Mars Rover continues to produce first-of-its-kind science on the surface of the Red pPlanet. The latest finding sounds unbelievable.
The rover Perseverance, launched from Earth in 2020 and landing on Mars in February 2021, carries seven scientific instruments, nineteen cameras, and two microphones. It also brought the Ingenuity helicopter to the Red Planet.
Today’s news involves the microphones. Researchers have been using the microphones to record the sounds on Mars, including the sounds generated from the rover itself. By timing the recorded “clack clack” sounds generated by the onboard research laser drilling into the Martian rock, researchers have been able to calculate the speed of the sound.
The speed of sound on Mars is just over 535 mph, significantly slower than the 760 mph on Earth. The density and composition of the Martian atmosphere, which contains 95 percent carbon dioxide, is about 100 times thinner, causing the sound waves to move slower.
Another interesting finding is that the speed of sound is slightly different — another byproduct of a thin and carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere. High-pitch noises generated by the laser moved faster than the low pitch noises like the whirl of the Ingenuity Helicopter.
If the same variable in the speed of sound occurred on Earth, conversations across the room would be difficult to hear clearly, and attending a rock or orchestra concert would be filled with a cacophony of sound as the high pitch sounds from violins and a singer’s voice is heard before the bass of drums or the bass guitar.