Last week, the InSight Mars Lander made a perfect landing on Earth's Elysium Planitia region, where it's hard to prepare for the surface (and of course take selfies). However, an "unplanned treat" is a shot of the wind rolling through the Martian planes – which you can hear here directly.
Technically, the lander is not set to detect sounds, at least not the way you would if you deliberately tried to record them. However, the air pressure sensor and the seismometer of the robot platform are able to detect the tiny fluctuations of the wind. The air pressure sensor in the silver dome you see above produced the most normal sounding signal, though it still had to be set to be more in line with what you would hear when you were there.
"The InSight lander sounds like a huge ear," said InSight science team member Tom Pike in a NASA press release. "The solar panels on the side of the lander respond to pressure fluctuations of the wind. It's as if InSight's ears hook and hear the Martian wind beating on him. "
Curious how it sounds? The resulting recording can be heard on Soundcloud or on the following page:
Sounds much like normal wind, right? Well, what did you expect? Like so many aspects of space exploration, the prosaic nature of the thing itself – a stone, a feature of landscape, a breeze – is offset by the fact that it occurs millions of miles away on an alien world and is transmitted here by a high tech robot , The wind on Mars may not sound much different than the wind on Earth – but that's certainly not the point!
We'll have more footage soon, I'm sure so you can use it as a sound to fall asleep. But even better sounds are forthcoming: The Mars 2020 Rover will have high-quality microphones on board and record the sounds of its landing and the atmosphere of Mars.