NASA's Mars Rover Records First-Ever Audio Clip Of A 387-Foot Tall Martian Dust Devil
Capturing a Martian dust devil is no easy feat. In order to do so, rovers like Perseverance and Curiosity routinely monitor in all directions for them. Once scientists detect them more frequently at a certain time or day, or approach from a particular direction, they use that data in order to focus the rover's monitoring in an attempt to catch one of them in action. Such was the case in September of 2021, when Perseverance was able to catch a 387 ft tall dust devil passing directly over it. If you listen closely enough, you can actually hear the sound of dust grains hitting the rover.
🔊 Take a listen: I’ve captured the first audio recording of a dust devil on Mars. They happen fairly often around here, but without warning, they’re not always easy to catch. But with a bit of, ahem – perseverance – it’s possible!— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) December 14, 2022
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Martian dust devils were first noticed from orbit by the Viking spacecraft. Since that time, nearly every Mars rover has had the opportunity to experience them in some way. Twin rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, actually benefited from them, as the whirlwinds cleared off the solar panels of the rovers and kept them operational for a longer period of time.
The estimated size of the dust devil which passed over Perseverance was 82 feet (25 meters) wide, at least 387 feet (118 meters) tall, and moving at a speed of 12 mph (19 kph). The results of the recording have been published in a recent paper in Nature Communications.