Experiencing a Dust Devil
Perseverance's Mast Microphone: NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover carries two commercial-grade microphones, including this one on its mast. The mast microphone is part of the SuperCam instrument. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

Recently a combination of instruments on the Perseverance rover has experienced a dust devil in a new way. The SuperCam Microphone recorded the sound of a dust devil while the navigation camera snapped pictures and the MEDA environmental station measured the drop in pressure as the dust devil passed over rover. The recording even catches the sound of dust grains hitting the rover. The results were published in a recent paper in Nature Communications.

NASA's Perseverance Records a Martian Dust Devil: This video and audio show the results of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover using its SuperCam microphone to record the sounds of a Martian dust devil – the first time any such recording has been made. The dust devil passed directly over Perseverance on Sept. 27, 2021, the 215th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/CNRS/INTA-CSIC/Space Science Institute/ISAE-Supaero.
Download Video | Hear More Audio Recordings

Yes, Mars has dust devils. They were first noticed from orbit by the Viking spacecraft. Nearly every Mars rover has experienced them in some way. The twin rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, benefitted in a big way from the turbulent events. These two rovers were expected to last until their solar panels lost power due to dust accumulation sometime within the first year of landing. In fact, they lasted many years, thanks to the dust devils which occasionally cleared off their panels. The InSight mission landed in a less turbulent part of Mars and eventually did lose power without the devils’ clearing action. 

I am quite familiar with terrestrial dust devils. My mother grew up on a ranch right where the borders of Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico meet. The area is prime dust devil country. Every few years my family would make the long trek from our home in the Midwest to visit this rather desolate area, watch our grandfather feed his cattle, and scan the dry countryside. Many a day we would see a dust devil in the distance. If we saw one nearby, we would run to get in its path, but we were rarely, if ever, successful. The devils were mysterious – they seemed to start randomly, and their characteristics, such as the height, size, and duration, also seemed random. As an adult scientist I now know that rising air during the warm part of the day causes instabilities, and dust raised by a gust warms the air further.

My childhood encounters with dust devils have made me feel at home working on Mars with its images and sounds of dust devils. The other day, I played the Mars dust devil recording to a friend and watched him grin. “Wow, that sounds just like wind on Earth!” was his enthusiastic response. Someday, young astronauts on Mars might chase after a dust devil, just like I did as a child visiting western Oklahoma.

Hear more audio recordings from Mars!

About This Blog

These blog updates are provided by self-selected Mars 2020 mission team members who love to share what Perseverance is doing with the public.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these blogs are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

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  • Mariah Baker
    Planetary Scientist, Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum
    Washington, DC
  • Matthew Brand
    SuperCam/ChemCam Engineer, Los Alamos National LaboratoryLos Alamos National Laboratory
  • Sawyer Brooks
    Docking Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Adrian Brown
    Deputy Program Scientist, NASA HQ
    Washington, DC
  • Denise Buckner
    Student Collaborator, University of Florida
    Gainesville, FL
  • Fred Calef III
    Mapping Specialist, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Stephanie Connell
    SuperCam, PhD Student, Purdue University
    West Lafayette, IN
  • Alyssa Deardorff
    Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Kenneth Farley
    Project Scientist, Caltech
    Pasadena, CA
  • Phylindia Gant
    Mars 2020 Student Collaborator, University of Florida
    Gainesville, FL
  • Brad Garczynski
    Student Collaborator, Purdue University
    West Lafayette, IN
  • Erin Gibbons
    Student Collaborator, McGill University
    Montreal, Canada
  • Michael Hecht
    Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) Principal Investigator, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Westford, MA
  • Louise Jandura
    Chief Engineer for Sampling & Caching, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Elisha Jhoti
    Ph.D. Student, University of California, Los Angeles
    Los Angeles, CA
  • Bavani Kathir
    Student Collaborator on Mastcam-Z, Western Washington University
  • Lydia Kivrak
    Student Collaborator, University of Florida
    Gainesville, FL
  • Rachel Kronyak
    Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Steven Lee
    Perseverance Deputy Project Manager, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • An Li
    Student Collaborator on PIXL, University of Washington
  • Justin Maki
    Imaging Scientist and Mastcam-Z Deputy Principal Investigator, NASA/JPL
  • Forrest Meyen
    MOXIE Science Team Member, Lunar Outpost
  • Sarah Milkovich
    Assistant Science Manager, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Eleanor Moreland
    Ph.D. Student, Rice University
    Houston, Texas
  • Matt Muszynski
    Vehicle Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Claire Newman
    Atmospheric Scientist, Aeolis Research
    Altadena, CA
  • Avi Okon
    Sampling Operations Deputy Lead, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Pegah Pashai
    Vehicle Systems Engineer Lead, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • David Pedersen
    Co-Investigator, PIXL Instrument, Technical University of Denmark (DTU)
    Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Eleni Ravanis
    Student Collaborator, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
    Honolulu, HI
  • Kathryn Stack
    Deputy Project Scientist, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Vivian Sun
    Science Operations Systems Engineer, Staff Scientist, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Iona (Brockie) Tirona
    Sampling Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Jennifer Trosper
    Project Manager, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Vandi Verma
    Chief Engineer for Robotic Operations, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Rick Welch
    Deputy Project Manager, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Roger Wiens
    Principal Investigator, SuperCam / Co-Investigator, SHERLOC instrument, Purdue University
    West Lafayette, IN

Tools on the Perseverance Rover+

The Perseverance rover has tools to study the history of its landing site, seek signs of ancient life, collect rock and soil samples, and help prepare for human exploration of Mars. The rover carries:


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Image of a rover pin-point at Perseverance's location on Mars, Jezero Crater

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