Miscellaneous Rumbles

A Salute to Perseverance!


The miscellaneous rumble we didn't hear - and can only imagine - was NASA's showroom-fresh latest model robot Perseverance breaking the wind of Mars' atmosphere.

But - along with Persey's higher-resolution cameras, little helicopter buddy, and other tools of exploration, the little feller can record audio.

In general, I'm opposed to excitement, but I'm pretty excited nonetheless to hear what Mars sounds like. My guess is that it's quiet, except for the wind. (And let's hope Persey's handlers thought to include a wind filter on the microphone - or phones, please let me hear Mars in stereo!)

But we might be surprised. I'd like to be surprised.

Anyway...hip hip hooray for smart, diligent, and dedicated people on planet Earth. I'm always grateful to live here - seems like a pretty good planet - and sometimes I'm proud too.


I was watching that too, glued to my chair by the 7 minutes of terror. Quite a conundrum with the helicopter. Real space exploration is being held back by the short leash of battery technology. Hi speed rotors to overcome the lack of atmosphere and a heavy battery pack. Viscous circle. Still, can’t wait to see the hi-res photos.


That's so cool. The sound of space. I guess they assume there's enough atmosphere on Mars to capture sound.

I wonder who will be the first to use the sound clips for background ambience in a musical sound recording. You know it's going to happen.


Maybe they'll record Uncle Martin speaking with Tim.

Pretty cool stuff!


Not a bad accomplishment for people from a flat planet!

But I hear Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids. In fact it's cold as hell.


I don't see any mention of the sound recording on their site. Do you know when they're doing that ? I'm bursting with anticipation.


It’ll be weird when Perseverance sends back a note perfect rendition of Telstar by the Martians.


I watched the wonderful, endearing - and self-evidently smart and dedicated - young folks who gave a press conference of sorts a couple of hours ago. They gave status updates on every aspect of the mission, showed some of the images they've received so far, and answered questions from the press.

Why should that move me? I don't know.

Something about hope, and a touch of relief that our many of our young are better than we are - that they're working with diligence, intention, determination, and grace on things important to the species in ways that most of their elders...just aren't. (I shouldn't be surprised: both of my children are more accomplished in more areas, more socially compassionate, and just plain better people than I am. I'm still grateful.)

The "kids" I watched in the presser happen to work in a space program - but I find the same thing, and feel similarly heartened, when I dip into developments in almost any substantive field of science, tech, social action, and even the arts. Makes me wish Texas's power grid had been in their hands.

I wonder how these people got so accomplished, so experienced, so focused and just plain competent, so young. All the commercial and social distractions they had to filter out during their years of education, how they (and, I hope their parents) managed to protect and nurture their "nerdy" interests against a slacker culture of often willful ignorance and triviality that rarely celebrates that kind of commitment, that kind of sustained attention not only to the ambitious concepts, but to the myriad of details that go into these important enterprises.

And no matter what domain of human achievement I survey, I see so many women, not just participating, but working as equals with - and leading - smart men who have always recognized their parity. Note that I'm pointing out this state of affairs: there's no hint that people working in these brainy disciplines think about such issues at all, much less make a big deal of it - which is as it should be. And, yes, I know women don't always get the same remuneration, but things are so much better than just a few decades ago. It's like large, important swaths of the human race are accepting, valuing, and depending on the potential that was always there - to everyone's benefit.

When I think of the those who represented science, tech, and business in my youth - middle-aged to old white men, only occasionally with a German accent - and compare that to today's international (and internationalized) science community, I'm grateful for the opening up. I watch erudite and entertaining panel discussions in areas of scientific and technological interest to me and both marvel at and revel in the racial and national diversity, the array of gorgeous accents expressing differing and complementary perspectives.

So I watched this group of six earnest young scientists and technicians - the oldest can't have been 40, and most seemingly in their late 20s or early 30s. They were all masked up, unable to contain their excitement at how perfectly had gone their completely nutty mission to land an SUV fitted out as a mobile lab, by remote control, on a rocky plain near a desiccated alluvial delta on a planet 300 million miles away, then drive it to explore geology, weather, and signs of ancient life. You didn't have to see all of their faces to share their feelings. And, yessir, in a way anyone in the human race can share vicariously in the accomplishment.

But hearing them give their updates and answer questions (a little nervously, with varying amounts of "spokesmodel" polish) and realize how much they know, how fully committed they've been to this project and the promises of the science which undergird it...is to understand how little most of us have been invested, how little we deserve to be invested. (And how pitiful my math skills are...how, had they been better, I would like to have followed similar paths to theirs.)

And yet we all benefit from the expansion of human knowledge and reach (pitiful though it is on a cosmic scale); we surely will benefit from the kinds of scientific and technical advances that always follow just behind the leading edge. But more than that - more deeply, more profoundly - we will benefit from internalizing and letting our minds expand into new understandings of how the universe works, and our tiny but unlikely privileged place in it.

I hope the race is able to establish a permanent foothold on Mars, to develop a self-sustaining colony - maybe someday a civilization - there. I have doubts; it's so cold, so alien, so obviously not the place human beings evolved to live. It's within the realm of possibility, I suppose, that a race of Martians might evolve there who can thrive in its environment. If so, they won't be homo sapiens as we know ourselves. Earth will be a dot in the sky, no larger than a star appears from our skies.

And so far, when we look outward from any of our proxy outposts in space, when we peer far and deep into space and time, we are enthralled, awed, and reduced to insignifance by the beauty, terror, and sheer expanse of what we see - even as we're intellectually and spiritually enlarged by our ability to do so.

But when we turn around and look back at the home planet, we realize - with equal gratitude and existential fear - what a singular, living, and precious speck of cosmic dust we're entrusted with (or, perhaps, infest). There really is no place (that we've found, that we can ever get to) like home.

Which isn't at all where I intended to end up when I started being grateful and hopeful thanks to NASA's bright young minds, God lov'em every one. I'd like to be proud of them just as a member of the human race, but I'm not sure I have standing.

ANYway. They were asked about audio. I think they said the mic was on, but they haven't processed that data yet. (The explanation of data transfers and relays was pretty interesting.) Maybe early next week, the feller said.


Not a bad accomplishment for people from a flat planet!

But I hear Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids. In fact it's cold as hell.

– Jimbodiddley



I'm an amateur astronomer, and I have a 6" Newtonian telescope on a motorized Equatorial Mount. A 6" reflector is perfect for planetary observations (and the entry level for deep space objects).

I have an eyepiece mount that holds a cell phone camera flat against the eyepiece lens. It takes surprisingly good pictures (believe it or not). The motorized Equatorial Mount, when aligned with the North Star (Polaris) can slew on the Right Ascension (RA) axis, and counteract the rotation of the earth. This means that it will hold an object centered in the eyepiece, to not only make viewing a planet more enjoyable (so you don't have to constantly keep centering an object as the earth spins), but it also allows you to do time lapse photography.

Mars is a fascinating target, 3rd after Saturn (1st) and Jupiter (2nd) on my personal list of must see planets. The "canals" are quite visible, even on my small scope. It's very easy to understand why they were so misunderstood by astronomers for so long. At the low resolution of smaller telescopes, all that was available for most of human astronomical history, the features of the planet indeed look just like a system of canals. The human eye likes to connect the dots, and see patterns in chaotic images, which explains why the drawings of Mars's canals differed from astronomer to astronomer.

This latest Mars excursion has me giddy with delight! Mr. Proteus is right on with his observations of the remarkable young men and women, who have been at the helm on the most exciting and complex Mars mission ever attempted. So far, it looks like it is going without a hitch, and they have a great deal more in store for us. I'll be watching closely as the mission unfolds, and the data analysis becomes available. The little helicopter, with the high resolution camera, is an amazing piece of technology. It has dual rotors, turning in opposite directions, which eliminates the need for a tail rotor. This technology has been available to model RC helicopters for some time now, and it provides an extremely stable camera platform. I had a small plastic RC helicopter, with the same rotor configuration several years ago. It was virtually crash proof in low wind conditions.


Celestron Astromaster 130 EQ Telescope w/accessories, including multiple eyepieces, 2x-4x Barlow lens, multiple filters, a good compass, camera mount, cell phone mount, red flashlight, and a two different Planispheres.


The NASA should have added this to the soundtrack


I have a high school friend who went on to be a science journalist and eventually work for Lockheed. She very proudly got to post a photo of herself in full protective bunny suit mugging in front of the Perseverance as it was being built.


A wee bit of audio has been released. Who would've thought it would be a short clip of a Simon & Garfunkel hit?


sounded like "The Wayward Wind" to me.


Hello silence, my old friend


The Wind Cries Mary? I Talk To The Wind? Hickory Wind? Black-throated Wind?

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