A microphone installed on NASA’s Perseverance rover recently stunned engineers after it managed to successfully record the humming sounds made by the Ingenuity chopper during its fourth flight on Mars.
Officials with the US space agency have indicated that the recordings picked up by Perseverance marked the very first time that a machine on another planet managed to capture the sounds made by another vehicle.
The footage released by NASA combines both video and audio captured by the Perseverance rover, which - despite the sounds of the rumbling Martian wind - managed to tape the muffled sounds of Ingenuity’s rotor blades with its SuperCam laser instrument.
Although the rover’s Mastcam-Z device has obtained various videos and images of the Martian environment, a Friday release from NASA explained that the flight test also proved to be the first time that video footage was synced with audio.
NASA researchers have acknowledged that engineers were not entirely sure whether Perseverance’s microphone would be able to capture anything since the rover was situated some 262 feet away from Ingenuity’s designated landing spot.
“This is a very good surprise,” David Mimoun, science lead for Perseverance’s SuperCam microphone, said in a statement accompanying NASA’s release.
“We had carried out tests and simulations that told us the microphone would barely pick up the sounds of the helicopter, as the Mars atmosphere damps the sound propagation strongly. We have been lucky to register the helicopter at such a distance.
“This recording will be a gold mine for our understanding of the Martian atmosphere,” Mimoun added.
Weighing in at just four pounds, the Ingenuity chopper arrived on Mars’s Jezero Crater in mid-February while stowed away inside the Perseverance rover. The mission will see NASA researchers looking for evidence of microbial life on the red planet, among other objectives. Perseverance is expected to spend two years examining the 28-mile-wide area of the since-dried Jezero lakebed.