NASA’s Perseverance Captures Video, Audio of Fourth Ingenuity Flight

May 7, 2021

On April 30, 2021, NASA’s Perseverance rover made history as the first spacecraft to record sounds from another spacecraft on another planet. During Ingenuity’s fourth flight, a microphone included with the SuperCam instrument aboard Perseverance captured the humming sound of the blades and the din of wind.Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS/LANL/CNES/CNRS/ISAE-SUPAERO

Sounds of the Mars Helicopter’s whirring rotors add another new dimension to the historic project.

For the first time, a spacecraft on another planet has recorded the sounds of a separate spacecraft. NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover used one of its two microphones to listen as the Ingenuity helicopter flew for the fourth time on April 30, 2021. A new video combines footage of the solar-powered helicopter taken by Perseverance’s Mastcam-Z imager with audio from a microphone belonging to the rover’s SuperCam laser instrument.

The Science of Sounds of Mars

The laser zaps rocks from a distance, studying their vapor with a spectrometer to reveal their chemical composition. The instrument’s microphone records the sounds of those laser strikes, which provide information on the physical properties of the targets, such as their relative hardness. The microphone can also record ambient noise, like the Martian wind.

With Perseverance parked 262 feet (80 meters) from the helicopter’s takeoff and landing spot, the rover mission wasn’t sure if the microphone would pick up any sound of the flight. Even during flight, when the helicopter’s blades spin at 2,537 rpm, the sound is greatly muffled by the thin Martian atmosphere. It is further obscured by Martian wind gusts during the initial moments of the flight. Listen closely, though, and the helicopter’s hum can be heard faintly above the sound of those winds.

For the first time, a spacecraft on another planet has recorded the sounds of a separate spacecraft. NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover used its SuperCam microphone to listen to the Ingenuity helicopter on April 30, 2021, as it flew on Mars for the fourth time. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/CNRS/ISAE-Supaéro

“This is a very good surprise,” said David Mimoun, a professor of planetary science at Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace (ISAE-SUPAERO) in Toulouse, France, and science lead for the SuperCam Mars microphone. “We had carried out tests and simulations that told us the microphone would barely pick up the sounds of the helicopter, as the Mars atmosphere damps the sound propagation strongly. We have been lucky to register the helicopter at such a distance. This recording will be a gold mine for our understanding of the Martian atmosphere.”

Scientists made the audio, which is recorded in mono, easier to hear by isolating the 84 hertz helicopter blade sound, reducing the frequencies below 80 hertz and above 90 hertz, and increasing the volume of the remaining signal. Some frequencies were clipped to bring out the helicopter’s hum, which is loudest when the helicopter passes through the field of view of the camera.

“This is an example of how the different payload instrument suites complement each other, resulting in information synergy,” said Soren Madsen, Perseverance payload development manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. JPL built Perseverance as well as Ingenuity and operates both of them. “In this particular case, the microphone and video let us observe the helicopter as if we are there, and additional information, such as the Doppler shift, confirms details of the flight path.”

SuperCam is led by the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, where the instrument’s body unit was developed. That part of the instrument includes several spectrometers, control electronics, and software. The mast unit, including the microphone, was developed and built by several laboratories of the CNRS (French research center), ISAE-Supaéro, and French universities under the contracting authority of the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (the French space agency). Calibration targets on the rover deck are provided by Spain’s University of Valladolid.

Arizona State University leads operations of the Mastcam-Z instrument, working in collaboration with Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego. The Mastcam-Z team includes dozens of scientists, engineers, operations specialists, managers, and students from a variety of institutions.

More About Ingenuity

The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was built by JPL, which also manages the technology demonstration project for NASA Headquarters. It is supported by NASA’s Science, Aeronautics Research, and Space Technology mission directorates. NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, and NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, provided significant flight performance analysis and technical assistance during Ingenuity’s development. AeroVironment Inc., Qualcomm, and SolAero also provided design assistance and major vehicle components. Lockheed Martin Space designed and manufactured the Mars Helicopter Delivery System.

For more information about Ingenuity:

https://go.nasa.gov/ingenuity-press-kit

and

https://mars.nasa.gov/technology/helicopter

More About Perseverance

A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).

Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.

For more about Perseverance:

mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/

and

nasa.gov/perseverance

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Gregg Eshelman
May 8, 2021 2:12 am

Why is one of the helicopter’s feet different?

Keitho
Editor
May 8, 2021 2:20 am

So far so pretty damned impressive. Lots of great engineering.

Vuk
Reply to  Keitho
May 8, 2021 6:13 am

Since there is no GPS on Mars a pre-programmed giro control in a greatly rarefied atmosphere makes it even more impressive.

Last edited 1 month ago by Vuk
Vuk
May 8, 2021 6:05 am

Latest Update:
A huge Chinese rocket will fall to Earth this evening?
https://www.space.com/how-to-track-china-falling-rocket-boostercomment image

Last edited 1 month ago by Vuk
H.R.
Reply to  Vuk
May 8, 2021 7:27 am

Well, that narrows it down a bit.

R Grubb
Reply to  H.R.
May 8, 2021 7:01 pm

What a relief it is for the residence of Thule, Greenland and Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina!

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Vuk
May 9, 2021 3:25 am

Fox News just reported that the Chinese booster landed in the Indian Ocean and didn’t hit anything vital, as far as we know.

Scissor
May 8, 2021 6:21 am

I thought I heard a door bell, then I realized that Fedex had just delivered a package.

Dave
May 8, 2021 7:04 am

Impressive!! Question… Do people believe man will fly to Mars, land, and return safely to Earth? Is so, in what time frame? I doubt it will ever happen. But hope I’m wrong.

chickenhawk
Reply to  Dave
May 8, 2021 8:25 am

simple answer: yes

time frame: as long as we are mired in corruption, who knows, it may still take a while.

Kevin
Reply to  Dave
May 8, 2021 8:56 am

Yes, people will fly to mars and return safely to earth. It will be scientific researchers along the lines of our Antarctic stations but on a vastly smaller scale. This might not happen until the transit times can be reduced to a couple of months and a reliable source of energy can be provided (the answer to both is nuclear power).

Elon Musk’s mars colony ideas will not go beyond the CGI stage. See Youtuber’s Common Sense Skeptic for reason why this is so.

Ron Long
Reply to  Kevin
May 8, 2021 5:43 pm

The deep space radiation will probably bake their cookies, so to speak, and it might be best that they don’t return and pass on any genetics.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Dave
May 9, 2021 3:34 am

I think humans can go to Mars and return safely, as long as humans are allowed to follow their dreams, which is not a given on Earth, or in Space.

I think most Mars living should first take place in orbit, where artificial gravity and radiation protection can be provided, and from there, scientists and others will travel back and forth to Mars for various reasons, including living on the surface for adventurous people, radiation being the main drawback to living on the surface of Mars.

rah
Reply to  Dave
May 9, 2021 11:06 am

Yes! How many will die trying is the real question I believe.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  rah
May 9, 2021 4:42 pm

I think there are tens of thousands who would relish the opportunity to try, even if there is a high probability of ceasing to exist.

Duane
May 8, 2021 7:07 am

As impressive as the video and audio of the helicopter’s flight is, it is even more awe inspiring that we’ve captured, recorded, and transmitted back to earth the natural sounds of the wind from another planet. Now we can imagine ourselves as astronauts, standing there on the surface of Mars, and looking around at the surrounding ground surface and horizon, and listening to the wind.

menace
Reply to  Duane
May 10, 2021 1:41 pm

The article says the sound was notch filtered from 80-90 Hz to isolate the prop frequency to make it perceptible so it is far from being the “natural sound”. Maybe they have a more “natural” (unfiltered) recording they started out with though.

May 8, 2021 7:24 am

Joey Biden is all green…the Pentagon is going green…oil companies are going green….when will the space program do it? How many tonnes of CO2 were required to fly that lil drone?

Kevin
Reply to  Anti-griff
May 8, 2021 9:00 am

According to this AP interview with Administrator Bill Nelson, NASA is back to being “woke” and is as green as ever.

https://apnews.com/article/fl-state-wire-moon-business-government-and-politics-science-ec39b34de4e3cb2161947a1208f3dcd5

The Artemis return to the moon project lost me when it’s objective became to land the first woman on the moon.

littlepeaks
May 8, 2021 8:01 am

I want to see videos from the drone.

menace
Reply to  littlepeaks
May 10, 2021 1:51 pm

Seems the drone only has a fixed downward looking high res camera and no video capability.

Insufficiently Sensitive
May 8, 2021 8:09 am

Now as an old Berkeley boy, I declare that the farthest-out recording studio in human experience. For now…

menace
Reply to  Insufficiently Sensitive
May 10, 2021 1:52 pm

far out man

chickenhawk
May 8, 2021 8:38 am

what’s up with this??

I can’t hear anything. checked computer, ran other vids, found the video on other sites, still nothing.

in the background very small though, just near the horizon, a group of “men” loading what appears to be drums into the bed of an early model Ford pickup.

chickenhawk
Reply to  chickenhawk
May 9, 2021 3:16 pm

okay.
got headphones.
heard the hum.

Michael S. Kelly
May 8, 2021 1:59 pm

After the two VIking Mars landings, I began to get increasingly irritated with NASA for continuing to send landers there without a microphone. Images are fine, but it would cost next to no weight or bandwidth to round out the sensory experience. Someone finally got the the same idea, and equipped the Mars Polar Lander with a mic from Radio Shack. But the darn lander pranged, and no data came from the surface. That was in 1999. NASA evidently doesn’t like to rush into anything, waiting until 2020 to try again. At least they did it, and now everyone is giddy about it.

Mark D
Reply to  Michael S. Kelly
May 8, 2021 6:02 pm

That is so cool but if it weren’t for NASA sucking up all the money we might well have lunar colonies already.

menace
Reply to  Michael S. Kelly
May 10, 2021 2:05 pm

seems a bit silly to me

we know that wind is going to sound… windy

did anyone doubt the chopper would make a noise?

the chopper hum was probably already recorded inside a test chamber so we know what it should have sounded like (with a sensitive mic)

I have doubts that a human ear would hear much of anything in that thin atmosphere above the wind noise, even if you could survive without having a pressure suit and helmet

Waza
May 8, 2021 5:04 pm

Totally impressive stuff from the NASA A team.
Unfortunately, it’s going to make Gavin even more jealous that he’s missing out on air time

Tom Abbott
May 9, 2021 3:18 am

It’s pretty neat watching that thing fly around over Mars.

Human beings are always doing fascinating things.

Mark - Helsinki
May 9, 2021 3:19 am

Whats the deal with the 12fps video 😀

goracle
May 9, 2021 5:20 am

wow!!!!!….boring… 2 minutes I’ll never get back

Tom in Florida
Reply to  goracle
May 9, 2021 4:44 pm

Seeing a Earth made machine flying on another planet and you call that boring?

goracle
Reply to  Tom in Florida
May 10, 2021 4:30 am

I saw nothing (same as you)…. and heard…. well, I dont know what I heard…. zzzzzzzzz…. it’s just sounds you get from a camera microphone when the wind blows, which although on Mars, is anything but exciting… seeing the thing fly without sound would’ve been better… Maybe they should’ve put a camera on perseverance to kick it up a notch when added to the sound…

2hotel9
May 9, 2021 9:02 am

Thats pretty cool, got to admit. I still can’t believe the pranksters at JPL have not made a vid with Marvin the Martian walking up and hitting it with a giant Acme hammer. Come on, man! Put my tax dollars to good use!

Robert of Ottawa
May 9, 2021 2:28 pm

OK Great but does Perseverence do anything?

menace
Reply to  Robert of Ottawa
May 10, 2021 2:10 pm
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