WASHINGTON — The US space agency the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) on Monday (Feb 22) released the first audio from Mars, a faint crackling recording of a gust of wind captured by the Perseverance rover.rrNasa also released the first video of last week's landing of the rover, which is on a mission to search for signs of past life on the Red Planet.rrA microphone did not work during the rover's descent to the surface, but it was able to capture audio once it landed on Mars.rrNasa engineers played a 60-second recording.rr"What you hear there 10 seconds in is an actual wind gust on the surface of Mars picked up by the microphone and sent back to us here on Earth," said Mr Dave Gruel, lead engineer for the camera and microphone system on Perseverance.rrThe high-definition video clip, lasting three minutes and 25 seconds, shows the deployment of a red-and-white parachute with a 70.5-foot-wide (21.5m-wide) canopy.rrIt shows the heat shield dropping away after protecting Perseverance during its entry into the Martian atmosphere and the rover's touchdown in a cloud of dust in the Jezero Crater just north of the Red Planet's equator.rr"This is the first time we've ever been able to capture an event like the landing on Mars," said Mr Michael Watkins, director of Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managing the mission.rr"These are really amazing videos," Mr Watkins said. "We binge-watched them all weekend."rrMr Thomas Zurbuchen, Nasa's associate administrator for science, said the video of Perseverance's descent is "the closest you can get to landing on Mars without putting on a pressure suit."rrrNow that you’ve seen Mars, hear it. Grab some headphones and listen to the first sounds captured by one of my microphones. https://t.co/JswvAWC2IP#CountdownToMarsr— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) February 22, 2021rrr'PERSEVERANCE IS HEALTHY'rrMs Jessica Samuels, Perseverance's surface mission manager, said the rover was operating as expected so far and engineers were conducting an intensive check of its systems and instruments.rr"I am happy to report that Perseverance is healthy and is continuing with activities as we have been planning them," Ms Samuels said.rrShe said the team was preparing for a flight by the rover's small helicopter drone dubbed Ingenuity.rr"The team is still evaluating," she said. "We have not locked in a site yet."rrIngenuity will attempt the first powered flight on another planet and will have to achieve lift in an atmosphere that is just one per cent the density of Earth's.rrPerseverance was launched on July 30, 2020 and landed on the surface of Mars on Thursday.rrIts prime mission will last just over two years but it is likely to remain operational well beyond that. Its predecessor Curiosity is still functioning eight years after landing on Mars.rrOver the coming years, Perseverance will attempt to collect 30 rock and soil samples in sealed tubes to be sent back to Earth sometime in the 2030s for lab analysis.rrAbout the size of an SUV, the craft weighs a ton, is equipped with a seven-foot-long robotic arm, has 19 cameras, two microphones and a suite of cutting-edge instruments.rrMars was warmer and wetter in its distant past, and while previous exploration has determined the planet was habitable, Perseverance is tasked with determining whether it was actually inhabited.rrIt will begin drilling its first samples in summer, and along the way it will deploy new instruments to scan for organic matter, map chemical composition and zap rocks with a laser to study the vapour.rrOne experiment involves an instrument that can convert oxygen from Mars' primarily carbon dioxide atmosphere, much like a plant.rrThe idea is that humans eventually won't need to carry their own oxygen on hypothetical future trips, which is crucial for rocket fuel as well as for breathing. rrThe rover is only the fifth to set its wheels down on Mars. The feat was first accomplished in 1997, and all of them have been American. rrThe United States is preparing for an eventual human mission to the planet, though planning remains very preliminary. AFPr
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