Rover Makes History With Beamed Voice Recording

NASA Rover Curiosity has been making history since it descended onto the surface of the Red Planet. At a news conference Monday, the rover made history again when it broadcast from the surface of Mars. NASA sent a data file of the recording up to the rover, and then beamed it back down.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And now, let's go to a place far, far away, but still in this galaxy - the surface of Mars. The NASA Rover, Curiosity, has been making history since it descended onto the surface of the Red Planet earlier this month.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

These are the first mission to Mars to send back pictures of its descent to the planet. And it's the first nuclear-powered Mars rover. Yesterday, at a news conference, the rover again made history with this recording.

CHARLIE BOLDEN: 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.

GREENE: Charlie Bolden's words were first-ever to be broadcast from the surface of another planet. NASA sent a data file of the recording up to the rover and then beamed it back down.

Dave Lavery is program executive of Curiosity.

DAVE LAVERY: Although it's not quite the true first person representation of humanity's contact with the surface of Mars, it is a small step in that regard. It's an opportunity to extend the human presence, virtually and in some small piece, out beyond our own world.

INSKEEP: That small step that Lavery mentioned there echoes the words of astronaut Neil Armstrong who died last weekend. Armstrong's famous words: That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind, were the first ones broadcast from the surface of a celestial body.

GREENE: This afternoon, the rover will beam back another recording. This one will be from the artist known a Will.i.am. It will be his latest single. He'll premier it at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. The song is called "Reach for the Stars."

I got a feeling this is quite a publicity stunt.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I GOT A FEELING")

BLACK EYED PEAS: (Singing) I got a feeling that tonight is going to be a good night, that tonight...

INSKEEP: Who's got a radio on Mars?

(LAUGHTER)

GREENE: That's a good question. Well, wherever you're listening, this is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

INSKEEP: And I'm Steve Inskeep.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I GOT A FEELING")

PEAS: (Singing) ...feeling that tonight is going to be a good night, that tonight, that tonight is going to be a good...

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