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ISAE-SUPAERO Achieves a Scientific First in the Exploration of Mars

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NASA's Perseverance rover has been surveying Mars' Jezero crater for more than a year. He recorded for the first time the "sound environment" of the red planet thanks to the Martian microphone developed by ISAE-SUPAERO, on board the US-French instrument SuperCam. An international team publishes in Nature on April 1, 2022 the scientific analysis of these sounds.

The ISAE-SUPAERO "Space Systems in Planetology & Applications" research team has been convinced for years of the scientific interest of developing a microphone to better understand Mars. On the heritage of large-scale space missions with the Jet Propulsion laboratory Caltech such as InSight, or its contributions to Earth Science missions like the French agency CNES Stratéole-2 stratospheric balloons, the Institute has in fact been working for more than 10 years on modeling tools to study the interaction of planetary atmospheres with rocky planets.

In addition to the design and testing of the SuperCam microphone, ISAE-SUPAERO scientists have played a pioneering role in atmospheric analyzes of the red planet and the results are very promising:

“For example, we have, for the first time, high-frequency measurements of the turbulence of the Martian atmosphere, a key parameter in Martian climatology models. More broadly, the data collected will allow us to do comparative planetology, that is to say, to develop models applicable to the planet Mars, to ultimately better understand its differences with the Earth,” says David Mimoun. , who leads the microphone science team at ISAE-SUPAERO.

For the next step, ISAE-SUPAERO, in collaboration with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and CNES, is already working on the next solar system exploration missions. The next destination will likely be the planet Venus, which is similar to Earth in size, although its temperature of 400 degrees and surface pressure of 90 atmospheres make it technically very difficult to explore.

Analysis of the climate patterns of Earth-like planets is essential to understanding the global warming we are experiencing. This mission to Venus, expected within 10 years, will include stratospheric balloons that will allow scientists to explore the internal structure of this planet, thanks in particular to knowledge relating to the propagation of sound in carbon dioxide acquired during the Mars 2020 mission.

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