Curiosity Update

by Chris McMahon

I thought it would be good to give an update on what Curiosity has been up to since it landed on Mars.

Well – Curiosity has given its first musical performance.

A few days ago it beamed back ‘Reach for the Stars’ by will.i.am from Mars to Earth. The first time in recorded history that a song has been beamed back to Earth from another planet. (Of course there was that time the sentient dinosaur-astronauts of Pangea beamed back ‘How Lovely Are Your Fangs’ the popular Saurian love song from their colony around Tau Ceti. Those bad vibrations upset the orbit of a rather large asteroid, but let’s not talk about that.)

Of course will.i.am – a well-known advocate for science and technology education – was stoked. At the NASA event he said, ‘Today is about inspiring young people to lead a life without limits placed on their potential and to pursue collaboration between humanity and technology through STEAM [science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics] education. I know my purpose is to inspire young people, because they will keep inspiring me back.’

Meanwhile Curiosity starts its Martian day by playing some tunes selected by mission personnel through its own speakers. I can only imagine the furious water-cooler competitions to get their favourite tunes on the Martian boombox. You can check out the playlist here (along with a great image of Mt Sharp). Not surprisingly, the list includes the Star Wars theme, nifty songs like Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Wake Up Little Suzie’ & Beach Boys ‘I Get Around’. Being an old Queen fan, I was thrilled to see ‘Killer Queen’ on the list.

So far Curiosity has sent back some stunning images of Mt Sharp, as well as flexed its arm in preparation for other tasks. Here are some images taken from the rover’s 34mm and 100mm mast cameras. Awesome.

What would be your all-time pick for Curiosity’s playlist?

10 comments

    1. Certainly fits with the theme.

      There’s already a Queen song on the list, but how cool would it be to have the Flash Gordon theme playing as the Sun comes up over the Martian horizon. ‘Flash. .. Ah ha. …’

  1. “An Sprach Zarathustra” might set a bad precedent. “Stars” from Les Miserables? I bet if you used the Latin or Catalan texts to “Ave Maria Stella Maris” or “Conditor Alma Siderum” you could sneak them past the cultural gate keepers. Or “I lift up Mine Eyes (Unto the Hills),” as set by John Rutter. “Rocky Mountain High,” by John Denver might fit the scene, perhaps “Red Dust and Spanish Lace” by Acoustic Alchemy, too.

      1. Well, I didn’t think any of my Goth-punk/ black metal ideas would find favor with NASA/JPL. Although if they want to send the cute and fuzzy quotient over the top, how about “Somewhere out There” from the soundtrack to “An American Tail” (1986)?

        Good point about waiting for the arrival on Mt. Sharp. However, wouldn’t “Over the Hills and Far Away” be more appropriate? 😉

  2. I have to say that auto-tune is about my least favorite thing ever, but the song isn’t too bad. It’s actually very VERY Human Wave, don’t you think?

    1. Hi, Synova. Thanks for the link. I had not actually heard ‘Reach for the Stars’
      The song itself is not my cup of tea, however I applaud the way NASA are trying to engage the public by appealing to mainsteam culture – which will.i.am represents – to bring in people and get them interested in science and what’s happening with Curiosity.
      Hell – I’ll even join the guys fan club if it helps the space program:)

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