• The Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover recorded sounds of the spacecraft as it travels through space
  • The rover's microphone picked up a whirring sound produced by its heat rejection fluid pump
  • The successful recording indicates that the rover will be able to record audio of its February Mars landing

NASA's next-gen Perseverance rover still has a few months left to go before it reaches Mars, but it recently provided a glimpse into its journey by sharing audio of what space travel sounds like.

Using a microphone aboard the spacecraft, the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover recorded audio as it travels through interplanetary space on its way to the red planet. In the audio file shared by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) via SoundCloud Wednesday, it can be heard that the rover picked up the sounds of its inner workings during its flight.

The whirring sound that can be heard in the clip is coming from the rover's heat rejection fluid pump.

"Located at the rear-starboard side of the Perseverance, the pump is part of the rover's thermal system, which will help maintain operational temperatures for vehicle components on even the coldest of winter nights," JPL said in a statement.

The microphone that recorded the audio is designed to capture the sounds of entry, descent and landing (EDL) – the shortest, most intense part of the Mars 2020 mission. The Perseverance rover is also equipped with a second microphone intended to listen to the laser zaps of the SuperCam instrument.

The 60-second audio file was collected on Oct. 19 during an in-flight checkout of the EDL camera and microphone system designed to pick up the sounds of the rover's landing on the Jezero crater early next year.

"As great as it is to pick up a little audio on spacecraft operations in-flight, the sound file has a more important meaning," said Dave Gruel, lead engineer for Mars 2020's EDL camera and microphone subsystem, said in an article on NASA's website. "It means that our system is working and ready to try to record some of the sound and fury of a Mars landing."

He added that though it would be nice to be able to hear the sounds of the rover landing on the red planet, it won't affect the overall objective of the mission if microphones weren't included in Perseverance's design.

"Getting sound from the landing is a nice-to-have, not a need-to-have," Gruel explained. "If it doesn't happen, it will not impede the rover's mission of discovery at Jezero Crater one bit. If even a portion of the landing sequence is captured on audio, that would be awesome."

The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover, which is traveling with the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, is set to enter the Martian atmosphere on Feb. 18, 2021, at 12:47 p.m. PST (3:47 p.m. EST). The two will touch down on the Jezero Crater 410 seconds later.

This illustration depicts NASA's Perseverance rover operating on the surface of Mars. Perseverance will land at the Red Planet's Jezero Crater a little after 3:40 p.m. EST (12:40 p.m. PST) on Feb. 18, 2021. NASA/JPL-Caltech