Cameras were regarded similarly early in the space program; now, imaging plays an important science role. Microphones may follow a similar path. Once used on a mission, microphones may become integrated into the regular battery of science instruments. One example is an acoustic anemometer, a device that uses sound waves to measure wind speed.
The Huygens probe dropped into Titan’s atmosphere in January carried an acoustic experiment to be used during the landing. Serious proposals to send microphones to Venus have been made already. Scientists interested in the sounds of other worlds are pursuing several future possibilities. — GREGORY T. DELORY, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AT BERKELEY