The Planetary Society's Mars
Microphone, built at the University
of California Space Science Laboratory, was launched as part of the
Mars Polar Lander mission on January 3, 1999.
The Mars Microphone was
constructed largely of off-the-shelf parts, including a microphone similar to those in
hearing aids and a microprocessor chip used in speech recognition devices.
The Mars Microphone is a small device, roughly 5 centimeters on a side and one centimeter thick, weighing less than 50 grams (less than two
ounces) and using a small amount of power, less than 0.1 watt during its most active times. You can see how small the instrument is in the photo on this page (photo courtesy of Robin Weiner, Associated Press).
The microphone got a free ride to Mars in the Russian
LIDAR instrument, courtesy of the Space Research Institute in Moscow, who
integrated and tested the microphone in their experiment.
a microphone to Mars was initially proposed by Society cofounder Carl Sagan. Janet
Luhmann of the University of California at Berkeley, and David Juergens of the Jet
Propulsion Laboratory, teamed with the Planetary Society to make the Mars Microphone
Project a reality.
More information on the Mars Microphone is available on the Planetary Society's Planetfest
'99 web site: