The Phoenix Mars Lander has been a big success for NASA, both scientifically and publically. It has once again brought people’s attention back to space exploration. Just yesterday NASA announced that it was snowing in the upper Martian atmosphere.
NASA scientists have today announced that they hope to listen in on Mars. Using the microphone on the Mars Descent Imager, MARDI, NASA hopes to record the first sounds from the Martian surface.
MARDI was originally intended to record sounds and downward images on Phoenix’s descent to the planet’s surface. However, tests done on the lander showed that using the system could possibly present an unacceptable risk to Phoenix making a safe landing.
Scientists had always hoped to turn the microphone on but NASA funding was needed before they could. Even now that they have the go ahead it will take a week or so before they can make any attempt at recording.
The Phoenix team plan to turn the microphone on when the lander is digging or using the rasp on the end of its robotic arm. This way they will be able to determine if hearing anything at all is possible. If that is successful, Phoenix scientists will then just turn it on, and wait to see if they hear anything.
Given that Mars’ atmosphere is thinner than here on Earth, sound waves do not travel as far. Subsequently no one is really certain as to what they might hear.