Hear the Crunching Surface of the Red Planet – Perseverance Rover Captures the Sounds of Driving on Mars

NASA Mars Perseverance Rover Driving

NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image using its onboard left Navigation Camera (Navcam). The camera is located high on the rover’s mast and aids in driving. This image was acquired on March 7, 2021 (Sol 16). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s newest rover recorded audio of itself crunching over the surface of the Red Planet, adding a whole new dimension to Mars exploration.

As the Perseverance rover began to make tracks on the surface of Mars, a sensitive microphone it carries scored a first: the bangs, pings, and rattles of the robot’s six wheels as they rolled over Martian terrain.

“A lot of people, when they see the images, don’t appreciate that the wheels are metal,” said Vandi Verma, a senior engineer and rover driver at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “When you’re driving with these wheels on rocks, it’s actually very noisy.”

More than 16 minutes of sounds from Perseverance’s 90-foot (27.3-meter) drive on March 7 were captured by Perseverance’s entry, descent, and landing (EDL) microphone, which remains operational on the rover after its historic touchdown on Feb. 18. The off-the-shelf microphone was added to the rover to help take the public along for the ride during touchdown, but mission members have been eager to hear the sounds from the surface, too.

“If I heard these sounds driving my car, I’d pull over and call for a tow,” said Dave Gruel, lead engineer for Mars 2020’s EDL Camera and Microphone subsystem. “But if you take a minute to consider what you’re hearing and where it was recorded, it makes perfect sense.”

Two versions of the audio clip of the same drive were released to the public on March 17. The first version features over 16 minutes of raw, unfiltered sounds of the rover traveling in Jezero Crater. In it, the noise generated by the interaction of Perseverance’s mobility system (its wheels and suspension) with the surface can be heard, along with a high-pitched scratching noise. Perseverance’s engineering team continues to evaluate the source of the scratching noise, which may either be electromagnetic interference from one of the rover’s electronics boxes or interactions between the mobility system and the Martian surface. The EDL microphone was not intended for surface operations and had limited testing in this configuration before launch.


Listen to 16 minutes of raw, unfiltered sounds of the Perseverance Mars rover traveling in Jezero Crater. The noise generated by the interaction of the rover’s wheels and suspension with the surface can be heard, along with a high-pitched scratching noise. Perseverance’s engineering team continues to evaluate the source of the scratching noise, which may either be electromagnetic interference from one of the rover’s electronics boxes or interactions between the rover mobility system and the Martian surface. The entry, descent, and landing microphone was not intended for surface operations and had limited testing in this configuration before launch. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The second version is a shorter compilation of sounds from the longer raw recording of the drive. For this 90-second version, NASA engineers combined three segments from the raw audio file (sections 0:20-0:45, 6:40-7:10, and 14:30-15:00), processing and editing them to filter out some of the noise.


NASA engineers combined three segments from the raw audio file recorded while the Perseverance Mars rover rolled across a section of Jezero Crater on sol 16 of the mission. Sections 0:20-0:45, 6:40-7:10, and 14:30-15:00 were combined into this 90-second highlight clip. There has been processing and editing to filter out some of the noise. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This first audio of a drive across the Martian surface joins a growing playlist of Mars sounds beamed back to Earth from Perseverance. A second microphone, part of the rover’s SuperCam instrument, previously picked up the sighing of Martian wind and the rapid ticking sound of the instrument’s laser zapping rocks to reveal details of their structure and composition. Such information will help scientists as they search Jezero Crater for signs of ancient microscopic life, taking samples of rock and sediment to be returned to Earth by future missions.

The SuperCam sounds were part of a series of systems checks the rover has gone through, ranging from the unstowing of Perseverance’s massive robotic arm to making its first weather observations using the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer.

The rover has also been searching for a suitable airfield for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter to attempt its first flight tests. Now that the right spot has been found, the Perseverance and Ingenuity teams are making plans for the rover to deploy the helicopter, which will have 30 Martian days, or sols (31 Earth days), to complete up to five test flights.

And then the hunt for ancient life will begin in earnest, with Perseverance exploring terrain once thought to be covered with water. Between the rover’s 19 cameras and its two microphones, the experience will be packed with sights and sounds. For Verma, who has helped “drive” NASA’s last four Mars rovers, planning their routes and transmitting instructions so they can take a day’s drive across uncharted terrain, the audio is more than just cool.

“The variations between Earth and Mars – we have a feeling for that visually,” she said. “But sound is a whole different dimension: to see the differences between Earth and Mars, and experience that environment more closely.”

18 Comments on "Hear the Crunching Surface of the Red Planet – Perseverance Rover Captures the Sounds of Driving on Mars"

  1. audio problem: when playing this file,
    an experienced 5-lb pom wonders what’s wrong with the computer…

  2. I am very intrist in science

  3. If they can make that robot that doesn’t uses any fuel to function for the longest time why are we still using fuel for the cars here

    • Takeawaykitty | March 25, 2021 at 5:28 pm | Reply

      It uses “fuel” they just don’t trust people like, well, you for example, with a nuclear reactor.

  4. I can make that same sound in my garage…

  5. So… we “received messages from Mars” (really just a Hollywood set),yet, we all lose cell reception in hilly areas. Doesn’t make sense. How can the rover send Earth massages while we here in America lose cell reception regularly. Doesn’t add up. Where there is smoke, there is fire. Stop lying NASA. Just like the fake moon landings lmao you guys are idiots.

  6. I’m interested in the atmosphere and what it’s composed of. Also how sound travels in this martian environment.

  7. Sounds like a bad wheel bearing.

  8. Sounded like a bucket of bolts and hanging pans, with a terrible screeching noise, bet that scared them Martians, lol 😆

  9. Cory,I thought the same thing.

  10. You’re interested in the red planet is good but why you re not helping us we the people that have ALS THIS DISEASE IS SINCE DECADES no one is caring were dying slowly and you care now is to send some pictures that cost billiards of dollars really it’s a pitty there is no humanity in the world anymore I was an active person I am 45 years a family man now I can’t walk 1 meter

  11. Apparently NASA ENGINEERS dont have WD40.

  12. Fricking cool to hear how infinite the silence is when it’s not moving. Although it’s definitely upsetting to hear how poor the bearings and rubbing parts are if it’s not interference between how close maybe the microphones are together. Could almost just be the frigid nights that are ruining the mobility that perseverance has. Better kick the thing in high gear a few times on the hottest days to get that grease moving and parts rubbing so the squeaking goes away before something seizes on it! Lol

  13. It sounds exactly like a dot matrix printer

  14. I love that people think it’s fake same ones who think earth is flat smh I have personally seen a shuttle launch and it’s spectacular so much energy being released and the sheer size of it is incredible. Now if it’s all fake where the heck are these massive things flying too they not just shooting rockets into folks back yards lol so I’m sorry but we would all be better if these flat earth believing jackasses were humainly disposed of IDIOTS

  15. Mars is trying to tell us to let Trump back on Twitter 🤣

  16. How much you paying for gas now California??? That’s Biden for you. You deserve each other. TRUMP!!!

Leave a comment

Email address is optional. If provided, your email will not be published or shared.