Students, journalists, and other invited guests visiting NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California were treated to the first song broadcast from another planet Tuesday, when Will.I.Am’s new single “Reach For The Stars” was premiered – from the surface of Mars.
The song was transmitted some 700 million miles back to Earth by the car-size Curiosity rover, which landed in an area known as Gale Crater at the base of Mount Sharp earlier this month.
“Today is about inspiring young people to lead a life without limits placed on their potential and to pursue collaboration between humanity and technology through STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) education,” said Will.I.Am, who is well known for being a big supporter on science and technology. “I know my purpose is to inspire young people, because they will keep inspiring me back.”
Will.I.Am and NASA engineers spoke to students visiting JPL about Mars, Curiosity’s mission, and the mechanics involved with getting the song played back to Earth. Students were also treated to a Q&A session and a tour of JPL’s facilities.
“I can think of no greater way to honor NASA pioneer Neil Armstrong’s life and legacy than to inspire today’s students to follow his path. That first footprint that Neil placed on the lunar surface left an indelible mark in history,” said NASA Associate Administrator for Education and astronaut Leland Melvin. “Perhaps one of our students here today or watching on NASA Television will be the first to set foot on the surface of Mars and continue humanity’s quest to explore.”
The I.Am.Angel foundation announced it’s teamed up with NASA and Discovery Education on a $10 million classroom education initiative that will reach 25 million students annually, including many from underserved communities. Focused on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) disciplines, the program will incorporate NASA content and space exploration themes as part of the curriculum.
“I had no idea that one day I would have a meeting at NASA, and I never thought that in a billion years a song would hitch a ride on a rocket and when it lands on Mars it would be beamed back to earth,” said the musician. “I wanted to put an orchestra together to show human collaboration, exercising their skills, their craft. That robot is going to Mars but a piece of humanity, art, is going as well.”