NASA’s Perseverance returns images of Mars
NASA just revealed what a dust devil looks like on Marchworld premiere.
A dust devil is a powerful but short-lived whirlwind that looks remarkable – and terrifying.
Perseverance, the Mars rover, accidentally picked up the sound of a 390-foot-tall, 82-foot-wide red dust cloud on its microphone, which was accidentally left on.
Although only 10 seconds long, the winds – which can reach up to 25 mph – were described as a “jackpot” find by study author Naomi Murdoch.
Audio was recorded on September 27, 2021. As the rover’s SuperCam microphone is only on for less than three minutes every few days, it was “certainly lucky” that the dust cloud appeared when it did so according to Murdoch.
She suggested there was a 1 in 200 chance of capturing the audio.
She told the AP news agency that there was “only one dust record” out of the 84 minutes collected during Perseverance’s first year on Mars.
The audio initially records the wind that accompanies the dust devil, but then fades as the rover is in the “eye of the vortex”. It then resumes when the dust devil passes in front of the rover.
Dust also hits the rover, making a slight additional knocking sound.
The Perseverance encounter could even help scientists understand why sometimes dust clouds suck dust from rovers, and other times just seem to “move air.”
Rover data sent back to Earth regarding dust devil
You can listen to the audio on NASA’s website here.
The noise is like Earth’s dust devils, but much quieter because the atmosphere on Mars is thinner, which makes the noise much quieter and the wind less powerful.
Dust devils are common on Mars and have been photographed for years, but never heard of.
Co-author German Martinez of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston told the AP news agency: “He was completely caught in the act by Persy.”
Perseverance (or Persy) has been operating in Jezero Crater since February 2021, where such dust devils are common.
The same microphone provided the first sounds from Mars (Martian wind) in February 2021.
The rover picked up 18 rock samples that may contain signs of ancient (microbial) life at Jezero Crater, which was once the site of a river.
These samples will return to Earth in about a decade.