Press Release

Listen up! The Planetary Society’s Mars Microphone Arrives at Mars on December 3

By SpaceRef Editor
November 10, 1999
Filed under

COVER SHEET: (PRESS RELEASE FOLLOWS):

You are invited to attend a Background Briefing on The Planetary Society’s
Mars Microphone.

Date: Monday, November 15, 1999

Time: 10:30 am

Location: The UCLA Mars Science Operations Center, Westwood Village

Speakers:

Dr. Louis Friedman, Executive Director, the Planetary Society

Dr. Gregory T. Delory, Space Physics Research, Space Sciences Laboratory,
University of California, Berkeley

Dr. Janet Luhmann, Space Physics Research, Space Sciences Laboratory,
University of California, Berkeley

Dr. David Paige, UCLA, the Principal Investigator of the main science
payload on the lander

Featuring:

1. Simulations of sounds on Mars — we can simulate on the spot how your
voice would sound on Mars. You can record that altered voice for
broadcasting.

2. Full scale mock-up of the Mars Polar Lander for photo ops

3. Background information on microphone — its construction, function,
purpose, and possible sounds

4. Preview of Planetfest ’99 when the real Martian sounds will be released.

Please RSVP: Susan Lendroth (626)793-5100 (ext 214)

DIRECTIONS AND PARKING: (Park in Broxton lot)
The Science and Technology Research Building is 100 feet southwest of the
corner of Weyburn and Gayley Avenues.

From the San Diego Freeway (405):

* Exit at Wilshire Boulevard — go east

* Gayley Avenue is about a half-mile from the freeway. Turn left.

* Drive two blocks north to Weyburn — turn right.

* Drive one block to Broxton– turn right.

* 200 feet south on the left is the Westwood Village Public Parking Lot.
Enter and park.

* From the front of the lot, walk back to Weyburn Avenue, turn left, and
walk past Gayley Avenue.

* After you pass Gayley, go 100 feet. On your left will be a large,
two-story brick building — that’s the Science and Technology Research
Building.

* Look for the entrance on the west side of the building.

Release: November 10, 1999

Contact: Susan Lendroth

Listen up! The Planetary Society’s Mars Microphone Arrives at Mars on December 3

We have seen other worlds. We have touched other worlds through our robot
surrogates. Now, we will hear another world after The Planetary Society’s
Mars Microphone makes landfall December 3, 1999 aboard the Mars Polar
Lander near the Martian south pole.

These first sounds of Mars will be heard not only by scientists and
engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, but also by the general
public at The Planetary Society’s festival of space exploration, Planetfest
’99, at the Pasadena Center, and at Planetfest Online, accessible through
the Society’s website.

That is just as it should be for a science instrument paid for by donations
from the members of The Planetary Society. It is the first instrument ever
funded by a public interest organization to fly on a planetary mission.

The Mars Microphone was developed by the University of California Space
Science Lab for The Planetary Society. It sits on board the Mars Polar
Lander within the LIDAR instrument built by the Russian Space Research
Institute (IKI). The LIDAR is the first Russian instrument to fly aboard a
US planetary mission.

You will be able to hear the sounds of Mars at The Planetary Society’s
website http://planetary.org. They will also be available at
http://www.missiontomars.movies.com and at http://marslander.jpl.nasa.gov.

“Even if only a few minutes of Martian sounds are recorded from this first
experiment, the public interest will be high and the opportunity for
scientific exploration real,” wrote the late Carl Sagan in a letter to
NASA. Sagan was a co-founder of The Planetary Society and its President
until his death.

The Mars Microphone may record whatever sounds there are on Mars, such as
wind, dust and electrical discharges in the Martian atmosphere as well as
noises of the spacecraft itself. The microphone can be triggered randomly
by naturally occurring sounds or it can be programmed to listen to specific
lander actions, such as when the arm digs in the soil.

“Imagine listening to the sounds of an alien world!” said Louis Friedman,
“This will be an extraordinary moment. A gust of wind, the abrasion of
dust — we will hear Mars as if we ourselves were standing there on the
surface of the planet.”

The UC Berkeley team of Janet Luhmann, Dave Curtis and Greg Delory are
responsible for the Mars Microphone. 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 microphone uses Sensory, Inc’s RSC-164 IC chip, the most popular IC for
speech recognition in consumer electronics. The microphone comes from a
long line of miniaturized, robust devices, several of which were used for
astronaut communications during the Apollo moon landings.

The Russian LIDAR is designed to examine the existence of dust and aerosols
in the atmosphere. Principal Investigators of the LIDAR experiment are
Viacheslav Linkin and Alexander Lipatov of IKI. This experiment works by
scattering laser light off of the surrounding dust cloud and detecting the
returned scattered light.

Planetfest ’99 will be a celebration the whole family can enjoy, with
hands-on activities in a Child’s Universe, speakers, space exhibits, a film
festival, and holiday shopping at the Space Emporium.

Major sponsors for Planetfest ’99 include Touchstone Pictures’ “Mission to
Mars”, Oldsmobile, Intel Corporation, Cisco Systems, Inc. and LEGO. Intel
Corporation will use its Streaming Web Video software during Planetfest
Online to bring high-quality sights and sounds from Mars.

Additional sponsors include Earthlink, OCE Office Systems, the Norris
Foundation, Swales Aerospace, Raytheon, Discovery Channel, Sky Publishing,
David Brown and Abe Gomel of The Planetary Society’s New Millennium
Committee, International Services, Radio Shack, Employee Community Fund of
the Boeing Company, Epson, StarLab, Minotaur Amusements, Meade Telescope,
Motorola, MBNA, Mars Inc., Sonic Foundry Inc., U-Haul, Community Bank,
Costco Wholesale, Smart & Final, and Steve’s InFocus Photo Lab and Portrait
Studio.

For tickets to Planetfest ’99 or further information about the events
there, call toll free 1-877-PLANETS or visit The Planetary Society’s web
site at http://planetary.org.

-o0o-

Please contact Susan Lendroth for additional information about The
Planetary Society’s Mars Microphone or for media credentials to attend
Planetfest ’99: telephone (626)793-5100 (ext 214), e-mail at
[email protected]

Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman founded the Society in 1979 to
advance the exploration of the solar system and to continue the search for
extraterrestrial life. With 100,000 members in over 140 countries, The
Planetary Society is the largest space interest group in the world.

SpaceRef staff editor.