Every Year, The Curiosity Rover Sings A Lonely Birthday Song
On August 5, 2012, NASA's Curiosity Rover touched down on the Martian surface for the first time. To mark this big-deal occasion, NASA engineers put a recurring annual celebration on the calendar. But it's a party of one, and the venue is Mars.
Send Rover Right Over
Curiosity, a huge accomplishment in interstellar exploration, is the largest and most capable rover ever delivered to the surface of a planet. After launching from Earth on November 26, 2011 and entering the Martian atmosphere at a break-neck speed of 13,000 mph, the rover broke ground on Mars at the Gale Crater on August 5, 2012. Curiosity was sent to the Red Planet to answer the question: Did Mars ever have the right environmental conditions to support small life forms called microbes?
When the anniversary of this rover's monumental landing rolls around, it's especially sentimental. On this day, the lonely rover performs a special task: it sings "Happy Birthday" to itself all alone. Adorable, scientifically impressive, or just... a little sad?
What's Martian For "Birthday"?
Researchers at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center programmed the celebratory song to play on August 5 every year. To do this, Curiosity produces a series of frequencies that mimic the notes in the song. As reported by The Washington Post, NASA technologist Florence Tan explains that "the rover's sample analysis unit vibrates at different frequencies to move soil samples" in order to create sounds the sound like the song. It feels a little solemn knowing that the rover will never make it the 208-million-mile trek back home to celebrate on Earth. Watch the videos below to hear Curiosity "sing" the song, and feel free to sing along. Happy birthday, little buddy.