A microphone on NASA’s Perseverance rover has managed to capture the sounds made by Ingenuity during the helicopter’s fourth flight on Mars. It marks the first time that a machine on another planet has captured the sounds made by another vehicle.
“This is a very good surprise,” David Mimoun, science lead for the SuperCam Mars microphone, said in a NASA release.
Indeed, tests on Earth suggested the rover’s microphone would “barely pick up the sounds of the helicopter,” he said, given the achingly thin atmosphere on Mars, which is around 1% that of Earth. Mimoun, a professor of planetary science at Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace in France, said his team was “lucky to register the helicopter at such a distance,” and that the “recording will be a gold mine for our understanding of the Martian atmosphere.”
Perseverance was about 80 metres from the airborne helicopter at the time it recorded the audio. Now that Ingenuity has completed four successful takeoffs and landings, the team at NASA is ready to take the experiment to the next level, with more ambitious tasks ahead.