The Perseverance Rover has only been on Mars for a month now, but already it has provided NASA with unprecedented data of the Red Planet. The latest comes in the form of an audio clip sent back to Earth which recorded the noises of Perseverance driving over rough terrain.
NASA said 16 minutes of audio had been sent back, although the space agency condensed it to 90 seconds for public release – although the full hour and a half long audio can be heard on its website.
In the audio clip, one can hear the wheels bumping over the rough surface of Mars similar to a car driving over gravel.
However, the sound produced is a lot more clunky than how any Earth-based vehicle would sound.
This is because Perseverance’s wheels are actually made of metal.
Metal tyres were used by NASA as they are more resistant to wear and tear than typical rubber tyres – something which comes in handy when the nearest engineer to fix any broken tyres is more than 200 million kilometres away.
Vandi Verma, a senior engineer and rover driver at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said: “A lot of people, when they see the images, don’t appreciate that the wheels are metal.
“When you’re driving with these wheels on rocks, it’s actually very noisy.”
Dave Gruel, lead engineer for Mars 2020’s EDL Camera and Microphone subsystem, added: “If I heard these sounds driving my car, I’d pull over and call for a tow.
READ MORE: NASA ‘sees the future’ of the Milky Way through Hubble
“But sound is a whole different dimension: to see the differences between Earth and Mars, and experience that environment more closely.”
Even though the audio clip lasted 16 minutes, it only represented a 27.3 metre drive.
Perseverance was looking for a spot to safely test its Mars Helicopter, which it has now done and will become the first machine to fly from the surface of the Red Planet.
NASA said: “The rover has been searching for a suitable airfield for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter to attempt its first flight tests.
“Now that the right spot has been found, the Perseverance and Ingenuity teams are making plans for the rover to deploy the helicopter, which will have 30 Martian days, or sols (31 Earth days), to complete up to five test flights.”