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After NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover landed on the Red Planet last week, Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency’s Science Mission Directorate, asked the question: “Who’s going to compose the first piece of music with Mars sound?”
So I did.
NASA has released a “firehose of data” from Perseverance’s landing, including videos, images and audio from the surface of Mars, Justin Maki,an imaging scientist and instrument operations team chief for NASA’s Perseverance rover, said during a news briefing on Monday (Feb. 22).
The first video released by NASA’s Perseverance team offered spectacular views of the rover’s atmospheric entry, descent and landing operations, a slew of fantastic images of the rover’s landing site in Jezero Crater (including Perseverance’s first panorama) and, my personal favorite, the first audio captured from the mission by the rover’s microphone system.
But this isn’t just a first for Perseverance. This is the first audio ever recorded on the surface of another planet.
If you click play (and turn up the sound), you’ll hear the weighty rumbling of the Martian wind — and some high-pitched whirring sounds from the rover itself. The sound is deeply alien while reminiscent of the soothing sounds of planet Earth. I could listen to this audio, which has an intrinsic peaceful and calming quality, all day. But, instead, I decided to take the beautiful, historic audio and turn it into a song.
When I am not working to communicate space and science here at Space.com, I compose and perform indie music under the name Foxanne. This isn’t my first time writing about a rover, as I recently released the song “Opportunity” about the now-defunct NASA rover that powered off after a global dust storm.
With these new Martian samples, I came up with “Hello, Mars,” a song that, at least at the time of writing this article, is the first song released that uses the first audio ever captured on the surface of Mars.
“I’m finally here but I’m just getting started,” the song’s lyrics go. “I’ve been training for years, though they said it was hard and ‘why would I go all this way?’ Oh, why wouldn’t I go all this way?”
The song goes on to say “I feel like I’m hearing for the first time, seeing for the first time,” referencing Perseverance’s microphones and suite of cameras allowing us to see and hear the Red Planet like never before. It then leads into the line, “here to discover and here to explore,” a more obvious reference to the mission’s ambitious science objectives, before crescendoing into a fun, upbeat ending. NASA sent Perseverance to Mars with a number of science objectives including searching for evidence of ancient life and studying the planet’s climate.
“We have an early entry in the @Dr_ThomasZ Mars Composition Challenge!” Zurbuchen tweeted about the song.
Yeah – we have an early entry in the @Dr_ThomasZ Mars Composition Challenge! #Super – @chelsea_gohd !! https://t.co/FnWqQYl4C5February 23, 2021
While there is no official Mars composition challenge (yet), if you’re also a musician or artist and you want to play around with these spectacular audio clips from Perseverance, NASA has made the samples publicly available, along with the rest of the “firehose of data” that they released Monday. As the rover continues to capture audio, video and still imagery, we can expect to get an even greater look at the Red Planet.
Check out the Mars audio samples here.
Now, If you’re an avid space fan you might be thinking to yourself, “didn’t Insight, NASA’s digging probe “hear” sounds on Mars? The “dinks and donks,” and other Martian sounds shared by NASA from Insight actually come from seismic data picked up by the craft sensing vibrations at the planet, rather than audio actually recorded with a microphone as we see with Perseverance. But you can still check out that audio here, if you want!
Email Chelsea Gohd at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.