Mars rover captures mysterious ‘scratching noise’ on the red planet

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NASA’s Perseverance rover has captured a mysterious high-pitched scratching noise on the surface of Mars.

The sounds were recorded as the rover drove past Jezero Crater, an area that scientists say was once inundated with water and was home to an ancient river delta.

In the clip, you can also hear a jarring mix of bangs, pings, and rattles, like Perservance six wheels roll over the rocky Martian terrain.

“If I heard these noises while driving my car, I would stop and request a tow,” said NASA engineer Dave Gruel. “But if you take a minute to think about what you hear and where it was recorded, that makes perfect sense.”

The cause of the particular shrill cry, however, remains unknown.

Perseverance engineers suspect it was triggered by electromagnetic interference from the rover’s electronics boxes or by interactions between the mobility system and Martian terrain. The team says it will continue to investigate the cause.

NASA released two separate records from the 90-foot Perseverance drive on March 7.

The first version features over 16 minutes of raw, unfiltered noise generated by the rover’s wheels and suspension rolling along the surface, as well as the sharp scratches.

The second clip is a 90 second compilation of sounds from the journey, which have been processed and edited for clarity.

They were recorded by Perseverance’s entry, descent and landing (EDL) microphone during a 90-foot trip on March 7.

The standard mic was added to the rover to allow the public to hear the sounds of its February 18 touchdown, but it remains operational today.

[Read: Elon Musk’s SpaceX unveils plans for historic all-civilian mission to space]

A second microphone installed on Perseverance’s SuperCam instrument also returned the sounds sent to Earth.

They include recordings of the sighing Martian wind and a rapid ticking sound produced by the Supercam’s laser zapping rocks to understand their structure. Scientists will use the data to look for signs of microscopic life.

NASA engineer and rover pilot Vandi Verma said the audio alone offers a glimpse of the Red Planet:

The variations between Earth and Mars – we get a visual feeling of it. But sound is a whole different dimension: seeing the differences between Earth and Mars and experiencing this environment up close.

You can listen to all the recordings here. Let us know if you hear any signs of alien life.


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