Curiosity Rover Serenades Self With MIDI-Esque Rendition of "Happy Birthday"

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Aug. 6 2013 4:24 PM

Curiosity Rover Serenades Self With MIDI-Esque Rendition of "Happy Birthday"

It's been one year since celebrations at the Spaceflight Operations Facility for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover at Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Aug. 5, 2012

Photo by Brian van der Brug-Pool/Getty Images

The one year of life of the Curiosity Rover on Mars has been a rollercoaster ride of emotion. We’ve gone from the white-knuckle tension and tears of joy of the NASA technicians in Pasadena when it landed in a crater on the red planet (and the insta-celebrity of one Mohawk Guy), to the existential pangs of watching an inanimate object celebrate its birthday all alone in the outer-reaches of our solar system.

Curiosity, which also functions as a mobile laboratory, has been busy up there. Monday marked one year since the Curiosity landed on Mars to take photos and collect samples, and to celebrate the occasion, NASA announced that in that year,

Curiosity has provided more than 190 gigabits of data; returned more than 36,700 full images and 35,000 thumbnail images; fired more than 75,000 laser shots to investigate the composition of targets; collected and analyzed sample material from two rocks; and driven more than one mile (1.6 kilometers).

Yesterday NASA also released a video celebrating the anniversary of the landing. To make the Rover’s soil samples fall down into the Sample Analysis at Mars organic chemistry lab on board the Rover, NASA technicians at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., programmed it to vibrate at different frequencies, making a recordable sound. On Aug. 5, they tried something special with that capability. As NASA technologist Florence Tan says in the video, if there’s anyone listening on Mars, on Monday they would have heard a very lonely Rover singing itself happy birthday.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Ariel Bogle, a contributor to Future Tense, is an associate editor at New America.



The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers


Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.


The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 22 2014 2:05 PM Paul Farmer Says Up to Ninety Percent of Those Infected Should Survive Ebola. Is He Right?
Business Insider
Oct. 22 2014 2:27 PM Facebook Made $595 Million in the U.K. Last Year. It Paid $0 in Taxes
The Eye
Oct. 22 2014 1:01 PM The Surprisingly Xenophobic Origins of Wonder Bread
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 10:00 AM On the Internet, Men Are Called Names. Women Are Stalked and Sexually Harassed.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 10:39 PM Avengers: Age of Ultron Looks Like a Fun, Sprawling, and Extremely Satisfying Sequel
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 2:59 PM Netizen Report: Twitter Users Under Fire in Mexico, Venezuela, Turkey
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.