Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click on 'Find out more' to see our Cookie statement.

A UK instrument, co-designed by the University of Oxford, has captured the first sounds ever recorded directly from Mars.

Artist's impression of the InSight Lander on Mars

The NASA InSight lander, which is supported by the UK Space Agency, has recorded a haunting, low rumble caused by vibrations from the wind. These vibrations were detected by an ultra-sensitive seismometer, developed in the UK, and an air pressure sensor sitting on the lander's deck.

Both recorded the Martian wind in different ways. The seismometer recorded vibrations as the wind moved over the lander's solar panels, each of which is more than 2 metres in diameter and sticks out from the sides of the lander like a giant pair of ears. The air pressure sensor recorded the vibrations directly from changes in the air.

This is the only time during the mission that the seismometer - called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, or SEIS - is capable of detecting these sounds. In a few weeks, it is due to be placed on the Martian surface by InSight's robotic arm. For now, it is recording wind data that scientists will later be able to cancel out of data from the surface, allowing them to separate "noise" from actual Marsquakes.

These sensors can detect motion at sub-atomic scales, including the wind on Mars, which is barely within the lower range of human hearing.

Dr Neil Bowles, from the University of Oxford’s Department of Physics, said: 

'To get the first data from the seismometer instrument package has been fantastic and even with a short test run the analysis is now full swing.  To "hear" the low frequency rumble of the Martian wind on the lander being picked up by the SEIS-SP is really eerie and provides a strangely human connection to this very different environment.'

Story courtesy of the University of Oxford Science Blog

Similar stories

Oxford research given significant boost to develop lithium-rich battery cathodes

Materials science Research

A team of scientists, including those based at the University of Oxford as part of the Faraday Institution CATMAT project, researching next-generation cathode materials have made a significant breakthrough in understanding oxygen-redox processes involved in lithium-rich cathode materials.

Lack of prey is causing puffin chicks to starve leading to population declines

Research Zoology

New research from the University of Oxford’s Department of Zoology has used innovative technology to study causes of declines in puffin populations in the northeast Atlantic, and found that a lack of prey near some major breeding colonies is driving puffin chicks to starve, ultimately leading to population declines.

Could South African mine wastes provide a feasible storage method for millions of tonnes of CO2?

Climate change Engineering Research

An article written for the University's Science Blog by Liam Bullock (Engineering Science), Zakhele Nkosi and Maxwell Amponsah-Dacosta.

Engineering Science team awarded joint UK-Ireland funding to research ocean wave breaking

Engineering Funding Research

£1.1m multi-institution project aims to assist the development of offshore renewable energy in challenging sea conditions.

Joining the spots: leopard print fashion and big cat conservation

Research Zoology

Researchers at the Department of Zoology's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit explore the extent of public interest in leopard print fashion, and whether this interest could be harnessed for the benefit of the animals through a ‘species royalty’ initiative.

‘Citizen scientists’ help researchers gather new insights into polar bear behaviour

Citizen science Research Zoology

Oxford University is working with Canadian researchers on a first-of-its-kind project that will engage citizen volunteers to help advance knowledge about polar bear behaviour in a changing environment by analysing a decade’s worth of images captured by trail cameras.

Similar stories

Oxford research given significant boost to develop lithium-rich battery cathodes

Materials science Research

A team of scientists, including those based at the University of Oxford as part of the Faraday Institution CATMAT project, researching next-generation cathode materials have made a significant breakthrough in understanding oxygen-redox processes involved in lithium-rich cathode materials.

Lack of prey is causing puffin chicks to starve leading to population declines

Research Zoology

New research from the University of Oxford’s Department of Zoology has used innovative technology to study causes of declines in puffin populations in the northeast Atlantic, and found that a lack of prey near some major breeding colonies is driving puffin chicks to starve, ultimately leading to population declines.

Could South African mine wastes provide a feasible storage method for millions of tonnes of CO2?

Climate change Engineering Research

An article written for the University's Science Blog by Liam Bullock (Engineering Science), Zakhele Nkosi and Maxwell Amponsah-Dacosta.

Engineering Science team awarded joint UK-Ireland funding to research ocean wave breaking

Engineering Funding Research

£1.1m multi-institution project aims to assist the development of offshore renewable energy in challenging sea conditions.

Joining the spots: leopard print fashion and big cat conservation

Research Zoology

Researchers at the Department of Zoology's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit explore the extent of public interest in leopard print fashion, and whether this interest could be harnessed for the benefit of the animals through a ‘species royalty’ initiative.

‘Citizen scientists’ help researchers gather new insights into polar bear behaviour

Citizen science Research Zoology

Oxford University is working with Canadian researchers on a first-of-its-kind project that will engage citizen volunteers to help advance knowledge about polar bear behaviour in a changing environment by analysing a decade’s worth of images captured by trail cameras.