Curiosity touched down on the surface of Mars in August 2012, after a nine-month journey from Cape Canaveral. The car-sized rover has been investigating the Martian climate and its geological makeup ever since, in a prelude to possible human exploration of the Red Planet in the future. NASA engineers programmed the robotic rover to hum “Happy Birthday” to itself on August 4, 2013, on the first anniversary of its Mars landing, using a series of frequencies to approximate the notes of the song. Usually, the rover vibrates at different frequencies in order to gather soil samples. Curiosity is still exploring the Red Planet seven years after its landing, but the song was a one-time celebration. No need to waste valuable battery power, NASA says.
Roving around Mars:
- Curiosity will be getting some company soon, as the European Space Agency and Roscosmos plan to launch the ExoMars mission next year, which will deposit the Rosalind Franklin rover on Mars.
- NASA's Mars 2020 mission is also planning to land a rover on the Red Planet in 2021; the rover will be named in a student competition later this year.
- NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has released the design of a smaller replica of Curiosity that computer users can download and assemble themselves, using “off-the-shelf parts for as little as $2,500.”