Curiosity Transmits First Song from Mars (Update)

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Update (8/29): A video of will.i.am’s song has been added below.

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has just become the Red Planet’s first public radio service, transmitting singer will.i.am’s new track “Reach for the Stars” to Earth.

Discovery Education, a provider of digital resources to kindergarten through grade 12 classrooms, is a partner with will.i.am’s i.am.angel Foundation. Together, they have announced a new science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) initiative featuring NASA missions such as Curiosity.

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The song, that was received by NASA’s Deep Space Network, was inspired by will.i.am’s passion for science, technology and space exploration.

In the audience at the special NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) event were 53 high school students from the i.am College Track Center in Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles — the neighborhood where will.i.am grew up.

“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 education. I know my purpose is to inspire young people, because they will keep inspiring me back,” will.i.am said in a press statement.

The artist and members of the Mars Science Laboratory team spoke about the message behind the song and some of the cool science Curiosity will be carrying out on Mars.

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After his song had debuted, will.i.am discussed why he chose a more orchestral piece. “I didn’t want to do a song that was done on a computer, I wanted to show human collaboration and have an orchestra there and something that would be timeless and translated into different cultures — not have a hip-hop beat or a dance beat.”

He also pointed out that to compose something orchestral isn’t what is expected of an artist in his genre and that he felt that he broke some boundaries by doing so.

will.i.am also had some words of wisdom for the students in the JPL audience: “You have to think beyond. Anything is possible if you’re disciplined.” He did point out that it won’t happen overnight, but if you stay focused, education can help you achieve anything you set your mind to — this was the ultimate message behind “Reach for the Stars.”

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“Discovery has a 25-year commitment to education and igniting peoples’ curiosity, rooted in our very DNA. The foundation’s goals around STEAM education are in perfect synch with Discovery Education’s experience, solutions, tools and resources to drive interest and excellence in STEAM subjects and eventually, careers,” said Bill Goodwyn, CEO, Discovery Education. “We are thrilled to partner with the i.am.angel foundation and will.i.am on this groundbreaking initiative and together, prepare the next generation of STEAM leaders.”

Courtesy of Robert Pearlman at collectSPACE.com, a video of the Martian music has been uploaded to YouTube:

Today’s historic event comes only a day after the first human voice was transmitted from Mars to Earth. Curiosity carried a prerecorded message from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. Here’s the message he sent in full:

Hello. This is Charlie Bolden, NASA Administrator, speaking to you via the broadcast capabilities of the Curiosity Rover, which is now on the surface of Mars. Since the beginning of time, humankind’s curiosity has led us to constantly seek new life … new possibilities just beyond the horizon. I want to congratulate the men and women of our NASA family as well as our commercial and government partners around the world, for taking us a step beyond, to Mars. This is an extraordinary achievement. Landing a rover on Mars is not easy – others have tried – only America has fully succeeded. The investment we are making … the knowledge we hope to gain from our observation and analysis of Gale Crater, will tell us much about the possibility of life on Mars as well as the past and future possibilities for our own planet. Curiosity will bring benefits to Earth and inspire a new generation of scientists and explorers, as it prepares the way for a human mission in the not-too-distant future. Thank you.

Image: NASA, edit by Ian O’Neill

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