September 27, 2023


Epicurean Science & Tech

Mars has two speeds of sound

4 min read

On Mars, the velocity of sound relies upon on its pitch.

All sound travels slower through Mars’ air when compared with Earth’s. But the better-pitched clacks of a laser zapping rocks travels somewhat quicker in the slim Martian environment than the lower-pitched hum of the Ingenuity helicopter, researchers report April 1 in Character.

These sound pace measurements from NASA’s Perseverance rover are component of a broader hard work to check moment-by-minute adjustments in atmospheric pressure and temperature, like through wind gusts, on the Crimson Earth.

“The wind is the seem of science for us,” says astrophysicist Baptiste Chide of Los Alamos Countrywide Laboratory in New Mexico.

To listen to the wind, Perseverance carries two microphones. One particular was meant to document audio during the mission’s intricate entry, descent and landing, and when it didn’t operate as hoped, it is now turned on often to listen to the rover’s vitals (SN: 2/22/21 SN: 2/17/21). The other microphone is part of the rover’s SuperCam instrument, a mast-mounted mishmash of cameras and other sensors applied to have an understanding of the attributes of components on the planet’s area.

But these microphones also choose up other appears, this kind of as those manufactured by the rover itself as its wheels crunch the surface, and by Perseverance’s flying companion, the robotic helicopter Ingenuity. The SuperCam instrument, for instance, has a laser, which Perseverance fires at appealing rocks for further more analysis (SN: 7/28/20). The microphone on SuperCam captures sounds from all those laser photographs, which assists scientists discover about the hardness of the concentrate on content, says planetary scientist Naomi Murdoch of the Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace in Toulouse, France.

Murdoch, Chide and their colleagues listened to the laser’s clack-clack when zapping rocks. (“It does not do, really, ‘pew pew,’” Murdoch states). When the laser hits a focus on, that blast results in a audio wave. Simply because experts know when the laser fires and how significantly away a concentrate on is, they can evaluate the speed at which that sound wave travels as a result of the air towards the SuperCam microphone.

The speed of this sound is about 250 meters for each second, the crew reviews. Which is slower than on Earth, where by sound travels by way of the air at about 340 m/s.

The slower velocity isn’t shocking. What we listen to as audio is in fact force waves touring through a medium like air, and the velocity of those waves relies upon on the medium’s density and composition (SN: 10/9/20). Our planet’s ambiance is 160 periods as dense as the Martian atmosphere, and Earth’s air is primarily nitrogen and oxygen, while the Martian air is predominately carbon dioxide. So seem on Mars travels slower in that various air.

The workforce also utilized the SuperCam microphone to listen to the decrease-pitch whirl of Ingenuity’s helicopter blades (SN: 12/10/21). From this decreased-pitched sound, the researchers learned that there is a second pace of audio at the Martian surface area at frequencies underneath 240 hertz, or marginally further than middle C on a piano: 240 m/s.

In distinction, at Earth’s surface, audio moves through the air at only 1 pace, no make a difference the pitch. The two speeds on Mars, the scientists say, are since of its carbon dioxide–rich environment. Carbon dioxide molecules behave otherwise with one another when sound waves with frequencies over 240 hertz move via the air as opposed with those people below 240 hertz, impacting the waves’ velocity.

“We’ve proved that we can do science with a microphone on Mars,” Chide suggests. “We can do good science.”

The SuperCam microphone captures 1000’s of sound snippets for every next. Those appears are affected by air pressures, so the scientists can use that acoustic info to observe in depth improvements in air pressures about quick timescales, and, in performing so, study more about the Martian local weather. Though other Mars rovers have experienced wind, temperature and stress sensors, all those could sense modifications only over longer periods.

“Listening to appears on yet another planet is a further way that will help all of us spot ourselves as if we have been there,” suggests Melissa Coach, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Goddard House Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., who was not component of this work.

The group is focusing on up coming collecting acoustic knowledge at unique situations of working day and distinctive seasons on Mars.

“The pressure modifications a ton on Mars through the 12 months with the seasons,” Trainer says. “I’m actually energized to see how the data could alter as it gets collected via proceeding seasons.”

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