Narrator: This is Science Today. A small hearing aid microphone was successfully launched earlier this month on board the Mars Polar Lander, which will reach the Red Planet by the end of this year. Greg DeLory, a space scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, helped develop the landmark microphone.
DeLory: The term microphone I guess is almost a misnomer because there is a microphone on board but it's actually a very small part of a much more complex instrument. What the microphone does is sort of sits on the lander and whenever it's turned on, it just starts listening and in it's most common mode, it'll probably sit there and listen for the loudest sound.
Narrator: Just what that sound will be is anyone's guess, but DeLory stresses the goal is not to find little green men...but rather, some insight into Martian climatology.
DeLory: Certainly we'll hear the wind - the winds in Mars are quite intense. And then of course we'll hear all the lander sounds. We'll hear the arm, we'll hear any other motors actuating on the lander which will be a big help for NASA I think, in troubleshooting possibly and also just public outreach being able to put a soundtrack to the arm digging for soil.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.