The next Mars rover is going to record sounds. What will it find?
We've got a pretty good idea of what it looks like on Mars, but soon we'll also know what it sounds like.
NASA's Mars 2020 rover will be equipped with a mic when it lands on the red planet in 2021.
"This will be a great opportunity for the public to hear the sounds of Mars for the first time, and it could also provide useful engineering information," Mars 2020 deputy project manager Matt Wallace said in a statement.
The rover's elaborate camera and mic system will capture the whole descent, which will include a parachute deployment to slow it down for its initial entry into the atmosphere before being gently lowered onto the planet's surface by a big crane.
Scientists and engineers have never been able to witness a spacecraft landing like this before. It could be hugely helpful in planning future mission landings, according to Space.com.
Sounds of Mars
The microphones will stay on after the rover lands, so we'll get to hear what one would hear while standing on Mars.
"We'll hear wheels turning, the drill drilling, probably hear the rover's mast moving," Wallace told Space.com. "Wind interactions, at least fairly high-speed winds — I would think we'd hear those, too."
During dust storms, the winds on Mars aren't as strong as science fiction movies like The Martian have made them seem.
The winds don't reach above 60 mph, even in the most violent dust storms, according to NASA.
But we've never heard what Martian winds sound like, so that's open for speculation.
The rover's microphone has about a 10- to 20-foot radius, so "We're going to hear a lot of great stuff," Wallace told Space.com.