Feeds

Phoenix Lander listens to Mars murmurings

Crackly space earful imminent

Business security measures using SSL

What would you hear if you were on Mars? A slight hiss from whatever wind there might be and then your own death rattle, probably - but the Phoenix Mars Lander is aiming to find out what other sounds the red planet has to offer.

The Lander has a microphone, fitted as part of an imaging system that was going to take photos as it descended to the Martian surface. It wasn't switched on because it might have endangered the landing.

NASA Phoenix Lander probe on Martian surface

Imagined image of the Phoenix Lander probe on the surface of Mars.

The Lander did plonk down successfully on May 25, and the mission staff have now got funding to switch the mike on and process its signals. The omens aren't good, though.

To start with, the mike is a simple cell phone-like mike, not a high-fidelity one. Secondly, the Martian atmosphere is thin, having the density at the planet's surface of Earth's atmosphere 100,000 feet up (30,500 metres), more than three times the height of Everest.

That means any sound waves won't be as strong as on Earth and won't travel as far. Somebody on the surface 20 feet away from you could be talking and you wouldn't hear a thing, just see their lips moving.

The mission controllers plan to switch the mike on and see if they hear the Lander's tools working away at the Martian surface. If they can pick up sounds like a shovel passing through gritty sand or scraping a rock, then they'll try listening when the Lander's tools are idle.

The imaging system will also be switched on and take pictures of dust sticking to the Lander's legs. These have apparently, and mysteriously, moved around on the legs and been described as quasi-barnacles. As opposed to authenti-barnacles, presumably. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.