Nasa shares first recording of Perseverance firing its laser on Mars
Nasa on Wednesday shared the first recording of the Perseverance rover firing off its high powered laser on Mars by deploying its rock-zapping SuperCam instrument.
With its two microphones, Perseverance is an upgraded version of its predecessor, Curiosity. While Curiosity studies samples collected on-site, Perseverance will collect rock core samples and save them for a possible future study by scientists.
The sounds of 30 impacts are heard, some slightly louder than others, said Nasa in its press release. SuperCam, equipped with a microphone, is using the laser to interrogate the composition of rock on the red planet. The variations in the zapping sound picked up the equipment would help the scientists in understanding the physical structure of the rocks and is a key component in probing the signs of ancient life.
“Variation in the intensity of the zapping sounds will provide information on the physical structure of the targets, such as its relative hardness or the presence of weathering coatings,” said Nasa.
“If we tap on a surface that is hard, we will not hear the same sound as when we fire on a surface that is soft,” explained Naomi Murdoch, from the National Higher French Institute of Aeronautics and Space, in Toulouse. “Take for example chalk and marble. These two materials have an identical chemical composition (calcium carbonate), but very different physical properties.”
Perseverance rover, which landed on Mars on 18 February, is tasked with hunting for signs of ancient life within the Jezero crater and collect dozens of samples for a future return to Earth.
“We are looking for a time when water was abundant on the red planet. And when life may have developed there,” explained SuperCam principal investigator Roger Wiens, from Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. “It (SuperCam) will help find the most relevant sample for collection and it is going to document comprehensively their geological setting.”