Exploring the sounds of Mars with DPA

What will the mics be used for?

One of the riskiest parts of the mission, entry, descent and landing (EDL) tracks the Mars 2020 Rover from the time it enters the atmosphere until touchdown in the Martian dust. No one has ever seen or heard a parachute opening in the Martian atmosphere, the rover being lowered down to the surface of Mars on a tether from its descent stage, the bridle between the two being cut or the descent stage flying away after the Rover lands!

The DPA microphones' mission is to capture these sounds for NASA. Not only will this allow project engineers and scientists to hear the fascinating sounds of the Rover descending, but the curious public will be able to follow along as well.


What will we hear?

Well, no one knows for sure - it's all educated guesswork. We have asked our resident audio expert, Eddy Bøgh Brixen, what he expects to hear during the mission. Although he is clear that this is all a guessing game, take a look at the video/infographic below to see what his expectations are.


DPA & NASA – multiple missions together

This trip to Mars is not the first time DPA has worked directly with NASA to capture the most accurate and transparent sound during their missions. Because of their durability and ability to capture extremely high sound pressure levels (like the liftoff of a space shuttle), DPA has been chosen by NASA  a few times, the first time over 50 years ago.


Apollo 13

The first collaboration took place close to 50 years ago. Apollo 13 was sent into space in April 1970 and B&K measurement mics (the predecessor of current DPA microphones) were used to record the sound of liftoff. The capsule used was called the B&K 4133, which is the father of DPA's 4004/4007.

Listen to the sound of Apollo 13's liftoff captured via B&K microphones.


Mission STS-63

Mission STS-63 to launch Space Shuttle Discovery into space (with the first female shuttle pilot) in February 1995 was also recorded with DPA microphones. These mics were the same type as used during the Apollo 13 mission.

Recording Shuttle launches present some extraordinary technical difficulties, not least because sound pressure levels can reach 170 dB. In addition, the microphones used must be able to survive the blast, which is an extremely violent affair. At the moment of lift off, there is intense heat and flames as well as chemicals sprayed all over the launch pad.

One mic was set just 500 feet away from the launch pad, where it handled 170 dB without distortion. Another was set 1400 feet away and subjected to 146 dB. A mile away, a third mic recorded 125 dB of SPL. The sounds recorded from these mics were subsequently used by a number of broadcast networks, including ABC, NBC and CNN.

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