As a science writer, and during my tenure as a cruise lecturer (pre-pandemic), I often get questions that are difficult to answer. I once got into a discussion with a doctor on board a ship who asked about sound in space. He had retired from a career in ear, nose, and throat and asked about what we would “hear” on another planet. From there, we talked about Jupiter’s sounds and the noise of a star exploding.
Detecting Sounds on Mars
Well, it turns out, if he’s still around, there are some good examples of sounds in space sent back from spacecraft recently. The first one comes from the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars. Its flights are wildly popular with viewers here on Earth. Each one takes the rover further and higher and they all provide new challenges for the tiny craft. During the April 30th flight, the microphone on the Perseverance rover picked up the actual sounds of Ingenuity’s rotors flipping around at about 2400 rpm (rotations per minute).
Ingenuity’s flight noises became the first recorded ones on a planet where only the sound of the wind existed heard for billions of years. (Yes, of course, each spacecraft landing made ...