Listen to These Weird Sounds on Mars that the NASA InSight Lander is Picking Up On
The NASA InSight lander on Mars has been picking up on some unusual sounds lately. Or, as Phil Plait put it in his Bad Astronomy column for SyFy, "Mars sounds weird."
He's not wrong. According to a press release from NASA, the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) was placed on Mars in February 2019 to record seismic waves – that is, any movement underground, like how we listen for earthquakes. The Red Planet was silent until April until one large, unusually high-frequency signal rumbled through. Since then, SEIS has picked up on well over 100 seismic events, although only about 21 of them have been classified as true "Marsquakes."
Put on your earphones (be advised, you'll want the volume turned up) and listen to the quakes below:
That's not all they're picking up, however. SEIS is so finely-tuned that it will even register the sound InSight's arm makes when it moves, or gusts of wind. There's one sound heard only at twilight, which the team has started calling "dinks and donks." As the surface of Mars cools during sunset, the mechanical parts of SEIS lose heat and contract, described as "similar to how a car engine 'ticks' after it's turned off and begins cooling."
Listen to InSight's arm move around on Mars:
Here's what "dinks and donks" sounds like (you do not need the volume all the way up for this one):
The NASA InSight mission launched in 2018 to study what lies beneath Mars' surface by answering key questions such as how thick the crust is or what the core is made of, as well as how the crust moves (similar to tectonic plates on Earth) and how often meteorites rain down on the planet.
Through this data, scientists hope to learn more about Mars itself, and inform our understanding of how rocky planets form.