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Planetary Microphones

The original Mars Microphone was developed for the Planetary Society by the University of California, Berkeley, Space Sciences Laboratory. It flew aboard NASA’s Mars Polar Lander spacecraft within a LIDAR instrument built by the Russian Space Research Institute (IKI).  Mars Polar Lander lost contact with Earth shortly after its descent to the Martian surface on December 3, 1999, and was never recovered. Nevertheless, our participation with the Mars Polar Lander mission demonstrated that a low-cost (less than $100,000), small (25 cubic centimeters) and lightweight (50 grams) microphone instrument could be constructed for a major NASA planetary mission.

A University of California, Berkeley team of Janet Luhmann, Dave Curtis, and Greg Delory built the original Mars Microphone from mostly off-the-shelf parts, including a microphone used in hearing aids and a microprocessor chip used in speech-recognition devices and talking toys. The Mars Microphone uses Sensory, Inc's RSC-164 IC (Integrated Circuit or "chip"), the then most popular IC for speech recognition in consumer electronics.

For more detailed information about the Mars Microphone, visit Greg Delory’s Mars Microphone website.

Section Highlights

Sounds on Mars

How do sounds sound different on Mars?

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Mars Microphone History

The idea of placing a microphone on Mars was first suggested by Planetary Society Founder Carl Sagan.

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Project updates

Blog posts with news about planetary microphones.

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