You might think space, being a massive vacuum, is silent.
It was, and is, and will be again.
That's after Perseverance Rover (Persy) gets planetside on Mars on February 18th, 2021.
The travelling, exploration, robot dog martian bound rover is zipping through the never on a path for Mars with a whirrrrrrr.
A microphone aboard Persy caught the whirring made by the Volkswagen sized goodest boi's "heat rejection fluid pump,"
The mic isn't installed for eavesdropping on Persy's travels, as fun as it may be. Rather, it's used for collection audio during entry, descent, and landing (EDL).
Otherwise known as the "seven minutes of terror," where Persy's controllers hold their breath and pray against a catastrophic landing.
Fun fact: with the onboard mic, Persy will be the first to record "true audio" on Mars.
And no, NASA's Insight lander capturing Martian wind through an air pressure sensor and seismometer in 2018 doesn't count.
NASA's 1999 Mars Polar Lander sported a microphone but crash-landed during its touchdown attempt.
Another near "true audio" moment was NASA's Phoenix Lander in 2008. The water-hunting lander never turned its mic on for fears that it would complicate the landing process.
100 days left in my #CountdownToMars. My team has put me (and themselves) through all kinds of tests and rehearsals to get ready for the big day: Feb. 18, 2021. https://t.co/5M54uScw92 pic.twitter.com/JqLm6Kp0wV— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) November 10, 2020
On October 19th, Persy's handlers turned on the mic to determine functionality and check the status of fellow cameras.
The whirring was caught in the process. And here it is.
WARNING: Turn your volume to about 20%. (Or turn it way up and show someone you don't like with headphones on)
Okay so, if you've followed ARSE long enough you'll have a few questions.
1. How does sound travel in space?
The noise isn't travelling through the vacuum of space because sound waves are vibrations that need a medium. In this case, Persy's own body is that medium creating intense vibrations the microphone is picking up.
2. Where's it coming from?
The travel through space, with no wind resistance, is a smooth one.
Lead engineer of Persy's EDL microphone and subsystem, Dave Gruel said:
"With apologies to the person who came up with the slogan for 'Alien,' I guess you could say that in space no one may be able to hear you scream, but they can hear your heat-rejection fluid pump," on November 19th AEST.
"As great as it is to pick up a little audio on spacecraft operations in flight, the sound file has a more important meaning. It means that our system is working and ready to try to record some of the sound and fury of a Mars landing," he added.
The droning whir is the result of the hear-rejection fluid pump - as mentioned - which in plain terms means Persy's thermal regulation system.
According to NASA, it keeps Persy (and its instruments) warm on Mars by circulating the heat produced by its nuclear battery through its aeroshell system.
The mission is an extraordinary one you can read more about here.
In late February, Persy will investigate a site rich with Martian history to unravel the events of the Red Planet's past.
The Jezero Crater is a former Martian lake and river delta where Persy will analyse the geography and atmosphere for signs of current or former life.
And a slew of tools is going to make that happen.
MOXIE - Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment - aims to create oxygen from the thin, CO2 rich atmosphere on Mars. If successful, this means a larger effort can be put forward in creating an atmosphere on Mars. At least for a smaller habitat or colony.
A mini, 1.8kg helicopter called Ingenuity is strapped to the belly of Persy. Ingenuity will be the first rotorcraft to fly alien skies on any planet and will collect valuable data of Mars' atmosphere.
You know your love for Rover will never be over.
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