In situ recordings of Mars soundscape
S. Maurice, B. Chide, N. Murdoch, R. Lorenz, D. Mimoun, R. C. Wiens, A. Stott, X. Jacob, T. Bertrand, F. Montmessin, N. Lanza, C. Alvarez Llamas, S. M. Angel, M. Aung, J. Balaram, O. Beyssac, A. Cousin, G. Delory, O. Forni, T. Fouchet, O. Gasnault, H. Grip, M. Hecht, J. Hoffman, J. Laserna, J. Lasue, J. Maki, J. McClean, P.-Y. Meslin, S. Le Mouélic, A. Munguira Ruiz, C. E. Newman, J. A. Rodríguez Manfredi, J. Moros, A. Ollila, P. Pilleri, S. Schröder, M. de la Torre Juárez, T. Tzanetos, K. Stack, K. Farley, K. Williford, and the SuperCam team, Nature, 2022, 605, 653 .
Prior to the Perseverance rover landing, the acoustic environment of Mars was unknown. Models predicted that: (i) atmospheric turbulence changes at centimeter scales or smaller at the point where molecular viscosity converts kinetic energy into heat1, (ii) the speed of sound varies at the surface with frequency2,3, and (iii) high frequency waves are strongly attenuated with distance in CO22–4. However, theoretical models were uncertain because of a lack of experimental data at low pressure, and the difficulty to characterize turbulence or attenuation in a closed environment. Here using Perseverance microphone recordings, we present the first characterization of Mars’ acoustic environment and pressure fluctuations in the audible range and beyond, from 20 Hz to 50 kHz. We find that atmospheric sounds extend measurements of pressure variations down to 1,000 times smaller scales than ever observed before, revealing a dissipative regime extending over 5 orders of magnitude in energy. Using point sources of sound (Ingenuity rotorcraft, laser-induced sparks), we highlight two distinct values for the speed of sound that are ~10 m/s apart below and above 240 Hz, a unique characteristic of low-pressure CO2-dominated atmosphere. We also provide the acoustic attenuation with distance above 2 kHz, allowing us to elucidate the large contribution of the CO2 vibrational relaxation in the audible range. These results establish a ground truth for modelling of acoustic processes, which is critical for studies in atmospheres like Mars and Venus ones.