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NASA’s new Mars robot just sent back some awesome photos

08 December 2018
NASA’s new Mars robot just sent back some awesome photos

NASA's InSight lander touched down on Mars 10 days ago, and has already sent its first pictures.

In the months ahead, Banfield said he's hoping InSight's sensors will pick up the sounds of gusts or other variations in the steady breeze of a Martian afternoon.

NASA increased the pitch of the audio by two octaves for those who couldn't hear the original, and for those listening on a laptop or a phone.

You can hear more of the sounds here and listen to NASA's news telecon with a panel of scientists here.

"Capturing this audio was an unplanned treat", said Bruce Banerdt, InSight principal investigator at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The seismometer will be moved to the Martian surface in the coming weeks. The sounds were recorded by an air pressure sensor inside the lander that's part of a weather station, as well as the seismometer on the deck of the spacecraft.

The noise is of the wind blowing against InSight's solar panels and the resulting vibration of the entire spacecraft. One has been included specifically to record the sound of a Martian landing for the first time. When InSight is conducting its science mission, the seismometer won't be able to hear the wind, attuned only to the grumblings of the planet's interior. For now, it is recording wind data that scientists will later be able to cancel out of data from the surface, allowing them to separate "noise" from actual Marsquakes. The robot has a lot of work ahead of it, but things always start slowly when you're handling a machine remotely from another planet.

Humanity has been provided with a recording of winds on Mars for the first time ever thanks to NASA's newly deployed InSight rover.

Sue Horne, head of space exploration at the UK Space Agency, said: 'This is brilliant news because it means we know the sensors have survived the rigours of landing on Mars and are meeting the requirements to achieve their science goals. "We are really going to have an opportunity to understand the processes that control the early planetary formation".

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".