On September 27, 2021, a NASA rover detected a rumbling sound and forceful winds on Mars, later discovering that it was a dust devil.
A dust devil is a small vortex that swirls dust, debris and sand to great heights. The whirlwind on Mars was around 400 feet tall and about 80 feet wide, going fast at 16 feet per second. Its rumbling gusts went 25 miles per hour for around 10 seconds.
The sound of the dust devil on Mars is quite similar to how it sounds on Earth. However, the sounds are more quiet due to Mars’ thin atmosphere, which also makes the winds sound weaker. Last year, a dust devil went right over the range rover Perseverance currently on Mars. Scientist German Martinez, a co-author at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston stated, “it was fully caught red-handed by Persy.”
A microphone on the rover recorded 308 “dust pings”, which was how many times dust has hit the microphone. The microphone on the rover, “SuperCam”, is turned on for almost three minutes every few days, making it a rare audio to capture. Even more, there was a “1-in-200 chance of capturing dust devil audio.”
The microphone that gave researchers the dust devil recording is the same microphone that recorded regular winds on Mars which are less forceful than the ones on Earth. Researchers can now study atmospheric turbulence and dust movement on Mars thanks to this important data collecting instrument.
Perseverance has 18 samples at the Jezero Crater, which once had a river delta. In about a decade, NASA wants to take these samples and bring them to earth.
[Source: Associated Press; NASA; Madison.com; Webster’s ll New college Dictionary]