Mars Rover

On August 5, 2013, what did the Mars Curiosity rover do?

And the answer: hum the birthday song.  

Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

To celebrate Curiosity's first successful year on Mars, NASA engineers programmed it to vibrate to the "Happy Birthday" song. The unit celebrated all by itself in a Martian crater, millions of miles away from home. Ultimately, NASA decided that was the only time it could celebrate, as the mission is more based in science than the arts.

In 2011, Curiosity set out to answer the question: did Mars ever have the right environmental conditions to support small life forms called microbes? When Curiosity landed on Mars in 2013, it brought the biggest, most advanced scientific instruments yet to touch the surface of Mars. Each day, it takes samples of rock and soil to study.

Curiosity tests land for the presence of water. Curiosity can drill into each of these blocks of rock and place a sample into its oven to measure its composition. Researchers will then see if organics appear that were not supposed to be in the block. If so, scientists determine these are organisms hitchhiking from Earth.

On February 18, 2021, the most recent Mars Rover touched down on the red planet. Rover Perseverance will spend the rest of its robotic life searching for evidence of ancient life on Mars. Learn more about the Curiosity mission here, and Perseverance here.

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