back to article Phoenix Lander listens to Mars murmurings

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 …

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Silver badge
Happy

Strange.....

"..It wasn't switched on because it might have endangered the landing..." what?? why?? how??

"..have now got funding to switch the mike on and process its signals..." It wasn't planned for?

"..the mike is a simple cell phone-like mike, not a high-fidelity one.." Done on the cheap?

This may sound whimsical, but I get the feeling that this microphone was added as a last minute 'unofficial upgrade' by a junior engineer who thought it would be a good idea. Only later, after launch, did he tell his senior colleagues - "Hey, guess what, I rigged it up with a microphone! :) "

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Anonymous Coward

Sounds like

An excuse to put up an "artists impression". A scientists impression might be more realistic, but I'll settle for a martian's impression of GW Bush.

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Coat

mic - not mike

It's a mic (short for microphone - not mikerophone).....unless the mic is named mike, I suppose.

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Anonymous Coward

Mars mic

The 'Mars mic' is a public outreach project supplied by the (not-for-profit) Planetary Society.

Full details, including why it wasn't switched on during descent, can be found here:

http://tinyurl.com/4eklq4

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Coat

Dwarfs

"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."

I'd be happier if they heard the lander singing "heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to work we go" followed by whistling.

Why do NASA not know how to have fun? Sigh

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Alien

It's Life Jim . . .

Lets hope the quasi-barnacles don't silence the mission first . . .

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Happy

be that as it may

We need playmobil pictures...i want to SEE and HEAR the martians

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Boffin

Not dust

Clearly, they have found one of Mars' native life forms. They're attracted to the heat of the lander, especially since the martian winter is coming.

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Coat

Microphone

They spent umpteen million (billion?) dollars on this project. They couldn't have splurged an extra $25 for a decent microphone? "Hey guys, I know how we can keep this under budget!"

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Alert

Just as long as it doesn't hear...

Ull-la! Ull-la!

Still, the chances of that are a million to one...

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NT
Alien

@ Dwarfs

<< Why do NASA not know how to have fun? Sigh >>

I suspect it's because they've learned a hard lesson, one that most public-facing organisations learn sooner or later: a sense of fun is a dangerous thing when you're dealing with the public at large. If I suffer from an abject lack of sense of humour, a significant part of that is down to years spent in a job involving talking to the public.

I don't know if you recall a certain incident in the 1970s, when NASA released a certain photograph with a certain geographical (all right, areographical, if you insist) feature on it that looked a little bit like a face? NASA probably thought, "oh, cool - look: a rock that looks like a face; isn't that groovy?" (I'm paraphrasing - it was the 70s.)

NASA must have learned pretty quickly after that that you have to be enormously careful about what you say and what you suggest. Show a sense of fun, or any kind of emotional investment in what you're doing, and the public will take indignant offence; or they'll mock you for your stupidity (and "it was just a joke" doesn't ring true even when it's true); or they'll misrepresent whatever you said and construct unconvincing yet elaborate conspiracy theories about it, with websites and everything.

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Alien

Marvin

Where's the Kaboom? There was supposed to be an earth shattering kaboom!

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Bliss

"Somebody on the surface 20 feet away from you could be talking and you wouldn't hear a thing, just see their lips moving." Could I relocate the missus there?? It sounds ideal.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Bliss

Hey, Chris, the Guild of Seventies Sitcom Writers called for you. They sounded... angry.

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Joke

Re: Re: Bliss

Sarah - my sponsors (The B. Manning & J. Davidson Preservation Society) take all my enquiries. Please forward any correspondence on to my willing assistants (who are all currently running around the park at high speed in naughty-nurse underwear).

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Alien

@NT

"NASA must have learned pretty quickly after that you have to be enormously careful about what you say and what you suggest"

Well, the nerds at JPL clearly didn't get that memo:

http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/image-details.cfm?imageID=1041

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NT
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@ Gianni Straniero

<< Well, the nerds at JPL clearly didn't get that memo: >>

Good on them. I like to see people enjoying their work, and I salute their bravery. But I stand by my previous answer.

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