To the best of my knowledge, a microphone has never been sent to Mars. Why is that? We take pictures of Mars, why not sound recordings?

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    $\begingroup$ Great question! Someone has asked What would sounds on Mars be like? and the use of other instruments to record microphonics and barometric pressure has been asked about While InSight “listens to the wind” what are it's actual barometric and seismic digitization rates and frequency responses? but I think that here you are asking about a microphone that would cover most/all of the human 20 - 20,000 Hz range. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 20 at 14:38
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    $\begingroup$ Scott Manley recently made a video about the sounds of mars $\endgroup$ – Turch Feb 20 at 17:00
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    $\begingroup$ If only they'd brought along a Nest Secure.... $\endgroup$ – R.. Feb 21 at 0:36
  • $\begingroup$ If I did the maths right, sounds on Mars would be ~22dB fainter. Talking normally in a quiet room would sound like a faint whisper, to sound like normal speech you'd have to be about as loud as a vacuum cleaner. $\endgroup$ – JollyJoker Feb 21 at 14:49
  • $\begingroup$ @JollyJoker yep that sounds right (pardon the pun!) I just estimated 20 dB here. The atmospheric density will scale with altitude and temperature, so things can get louder at night, and louder at the bottom of Gale crater (Curiosity) than on top of Olympus Mons $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 21 at 16:15

Your premise is incorrect. Microphones have been carried on Mars missions, they just failed to work. Mars 2020 will carry microphones.

NASA spacecraft that traveled to Mars in the past have carried microphones twice. Unfortunately, one of those missions, the Mars Polar Lander, failed. The Phoenix Lander had a microphone on the spacecraft’s descent camera, but that instrument was never turned on.

When the Mars 2020 rover arrives at Mars, it will have two microphones. It will make it possible for our robots to not only touch and taste, but finally hear, the sounds of Mars.

The reason the Phoenix Lander's microphone was never turned on is that it was part of a camera that routed data through an interface card. A flaw was discovered in the interface card that could have caused the landing to fail if the camera took an image at the wrong time during descent, and it was too late to repair the card, so they decided to launch as it was but not turn on the camera during descent. Since the microphone was attached to the camera, that means the microphone was also off. source


The latest mission to land on Mars actually had a number of instruments to listen to the Martian surface. You can hear an audio clip of Mars sent back by the rover here: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/783/nasa-insight-lander-hears-martian-winds/

  • $\begingroup$ Disappointing lack of spooky alien sounds. $\endgroup$ – NecroTechno Feb 21 at 15:01

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