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NASA Pings Curiosity With Instructions to Sing Itself Happy Birthday

by Brandon Russell | August 6, 2013August 6, 2013 5:30 pm PST

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Curiosity’s first year on Mars has been an eventful one. Since triumphantly landing on the Martian planet last year, we’ve seen the rover dig, roam and even break down a few times—all and all a successful first twelve months. It’s probably accomplished more than some people have over a 52-week period. But the sad reality is that the curios craft is spending its birthday on Mars all alone, no card, no cake, no loved ones.

But that doesn’t mean it’s been forgotten.

To commemorate Curiosity’s one-year anniversary, NASA engineers have transmitted instructions to its Sample Analysis Instrument (SAM) module—basically an onboard chemistry lab—to sing Happy Birthday to itself. The SAM module’s scientific purpose is to filter finely-grounded samples of soil for analysis by resonating at varying frequencies, but engineers have managed to program its resonance capabilities to mimic the popular birthday song.

In a short video, NASA’s Florence Tan, SAM electrical lead engineer, explains how Curiosity’s SAM module works, and how engineers were able to program the rover to sing. It’s incredibly impressive that a craft controlled from Earth is capable of such things, but Curiosity certainly is no ordinary rover. Now that we’ve managed to send a rover to Mars for a year, now all we need to do is send a human.

Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell likes to rollerblade while listening to ACDC.