MARS MICROPHONE- Martian Soundscape: The Pulse of the Planet daily radio program offers free legal online mp3 downloads, exploring the world of sound in nature, culture and science, with audio adventures, world music, extraordinary sound portraits, science diaries, and nature ring-tones; an amazing sonic experience.

Airdate: Dec 07, 1999
Scientist: Greg Delory

MARS MICROPHONE- Martian Soundscape

MARS MICROPHONE- Martian Soundscape
This month, scientists are waiting for their first whispers of the Martian soundscape.

MARS MICROPHONE- Martian Soundscape

ambience: Theme from 2001, Mars simulation chamber

You've probably heard this music before, conjuring up visions of outer space. Well, conjure up a vision of Mars, because this recording might be giving us clues of what the Red Planet really sounds like. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont.

This month marks the scheduled arrival of NASA's Mars Polar Lander, the first space probe ever to bring a microphone to the Martian surface. Greg Delory is an assistant research physicist at the Space Science Laboratory in UC Berkeley. Using the same microphone, he made this recording inside a wind tunnel designed to simulate conditions on Mars.

"We want to understand how the microphone operates under various conditions and we did a whole bunch of tests with the microphone at regular Earth conditions and then we extend that process to the vacuum chamber where we actually decrease the atmospheric pressure to conditions similar on Mars and we do the same thing; we test the microphone with artificially generated sounds."

Mars has a thin atmosphere composed made mainly of carbon dioxide and it's subject to heavy sandstorms. These factors make it hard to predict what the planet's sonic conditions might be like.

"The winds on Mars are very strong, but again the atmosphere is very thin, so it's kind of a toss up about how much effect the wind's going to have and whether that effect is going to be comparable to the Earth because we have [a] much more thick atmosphere, so the effect of the wind is much more intensely felt. Also, in a very tenuous atmosphere like Mars, sound does not transmit with the same efficiency as it does on Earth and so someone speaking in a normal, audible tone on Earth would sound like they're whispering at Mars pressure."

Each week, the Mars Lander is scheduled to transmit a short segment of recorded sounds back to Earth. Scientists hope to get their first taste of the Martian soundscape later this month. Pulse of the Planet, is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.