This post has been updated.
Will.i.am’s new song “Reach for the Stars” is the first tune to be sent down from Mars — a fitting accomplishment for the Grammy Award-winning artist who has been stumping for improving education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“There’s no words to explain how amazing this is,” Will.i.am said during an event for students at Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Tuesday afternoon. The recording artist thanked Nicola Tesla and others for their inventions. Former astronaut Leland Melvin served as emcee for the event.
“I’m a little nervous because my mom’s in the audience,” said Will.i.am just before the recording was received via the Mars Curiosity rover.
On Monday, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden’s voice was the first to be broadcast back to Earth via the rover. The recording originated on Earth, was routed through the rover and then sent back.
“Do you know how famous that guy is,” said Will.i.am when told that Bobak Ferdowsi, aka “Mohawk Guy,” would not only be tuning in to watch but would be sending the transmission.
Video of the event cut away to the team members in the JPL control room, who were nodding their heads and clapping along to the song.
“I didn’t want to do a song on a computer,” said Will.i.am, saying that he wanted to create something “timeless.”
Update 8:30 p.m.: Transmission of the song wasn’t as simple as beaming the song to the rover and back. In fact, when the process first started, the NASA team could not guarantee that the song could be beamed back in its entirety. According to David Lavery, program executive for Solar System Exploration, the song was, ultimately, sent to the rover in 11 different packets over the course of two days. The rover reassembled the data and, once highly compressed, it was beamed back to Earth in a single file.
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