Working as a team, NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter and Perseverance rover have achieved another historic first. During the rotorcraft's fourth flight on April 30th, Perseverance managed to capture an audio clip of the foray, marking the first time a spacecraft on another planet has recorded the sounds made by a separate spacecraft. Now you can hear and see how that flight unfolded. NASA has shared a nearly three-minute-long video captured by Perseverance with its Mastcam-Z imager and the microphone on its SuperCam laser instrument.
I’ve seen what the #MarsHelicopter can do – and now I’ve heard it.
🎧 Grab headphones and listen to the otherworldly hum of Ingenuity’s blades as it headed south to scout a new area on its fourth flight.
How I captured both sight and sound: https://t.co/95J9X3bcyO pic.twitter.com/Lw44x7kqYZ
— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) May 7, 2021
Even though Ingenuity's blades were spinning at 2,537 rotations per minute, it's hard to hear the helicopter slice through the skies of Mars. There are a handful of reasons for that. Perseverance was 262 feet away from the drone's takeoff and landing spot. Additionally, the planet's thin atmosphere makes it difficult for sounds to travel, especially when they're competing against Mars' bitter winds. To make it easier to hear Ingenuity, NASA edited the mono recording to isolate the 84-hertz frequency generated by the craft's rotating blades. If you listen carefully, you can hear the faint hum Ingenuity makes when flying. It's most noticeable when the helicopter enters the frame of the video.
Going into last week's flight, simulations and tests told scientists not to expect much from any recording. "This is a very good surprise," David Mimoun, the lead on Perseverance's SuperCam microphone, said. "This recording will be a gold mine for our understanding of the Martian atmosphere."