French-made device picks up sounds from Planet Mars

An artist's concept depicts NASA's InSight lander after it has deployed its instruments on the Martian surface, including the dome-shaped SEIS

Sounds from the Planet Mars have been recorded by a French-made seismometer aboard the Nasa InSight Mars Lander probe, which scientists say may help us understand more about the planet itself.

The seismometer, known as SEIS (Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure), is one of the main instruments on board the InSight probe.

It was designed and constructed in France with French space agency Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES), in partnership with Switzerland, Germany, the UK, and the USA.

The lander - officially named Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) and created by US aerospace and defence company Lockheed Martin - launched on May 5, 2018 and landed on Mars on November 26, 2018, having travelled 483 million kilometres.

The SEIS's main function is to measure seismic activity on Mars, to find out more about the planet and its behaviour, and help scientists understand more about how planets and moons evolve.

The first tremor from Mars was detected on the 128th day of the mission, on April 6, 2019. The second “major” tremor was recorded on May 22, on the 178th day. The third major tremor was picked up on July 25.

The tremor vibrations were then transformed into signals that human ears can hear - including speeding the recording up considerably.

The device also picks up noises from wind, the movement of its own robotic arm, and friction - leading to an unearthly array of sounds from the Red Planet.

Inventor and principal investigator of the device, and researcher at the physics research group l’Institut de Physique du Globe in Paris (IPGP), Philippe Lognonné, said: “We have detected around a dozen tremors from Mars, including three that are strongest, of which analysis has been very enlightening on the internal structure of the planet.”

Full analysis of the tremors has not yet been published, but Nasa has said in a press release that early interpretations suggest that Mars appears to have both Earth- and Moon-like elements, with fractures that give off seismic readings.

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