Feeds

Curiosity sings 'Happy Birthday' to itself on Martian anniversary

Gets tuneful with good vibrations

Security for virtualized datacentres

Video In a remote Martian crater over 200 million miles from Earth, NASA's Curiosity rover sung "Happy Birthday" to itself using instruments in the rover's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) chemistry laboratory.

The SAM unit uses a gas chromatograph, quadrupole mass spectrometer, and tunable laser spectrometer to analyze the soil and air of Mars, and has produced some fascinating insights into how the planet lost its breathable atmosphere billions of years ago. But these tools are useless when it comes to carrying a tune.

In order to get soil samples into SAM, the unit has a scoop that is designed to vibrate to ensure all the Martian dust and rock slides off and into the analysis chamber. The vibration also generates sound, and the team at NASA worked out the correct sequence to play the popular birthday tune.

"To commemorate SAM and Curiosity's birthday on Mars, we decided to play a little song. If there's anyone listening on Mars on this special occasion, you will hear this," said Florence Tan, SAM's electrical lead engineer.

"This is a first for NASA and for the world, and music brings people together and is fun. It's been a great year on Mars and I cannot wait to get to Mount Sharp next year."

It's a cute little trick, and one that engineers in other fields have been doing for a while. The pulsating screams of a Formula One racing car engine, for example, have been used for years to play patriotic ditties.

Curiosity might have introduced music to Mars for the first time, but it has had some role in forwarding the ambitions of technology poseur Intel's director of creative innovation Will.i.am., when NASA allowed the rover to be used by the Black Eyed Peas front man to beam his latest ditty to and from the Red Planet in a pointless publicity stunt last August.

With its brief celebratory musical interlude now complete, Curiosity has restarted its long trek to Mount Sharp, where it hopes to take samples from rocks formed when the planet was a much more hospitable place. At around 100m a day, the rover is expected to take over a year to get there – or longer, if it finds something interesting along the way. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.