In 2013, NASA programmed the rover’s sample-analysis unit to vibrate to the tune of “Happy birthday,” which it sang to itself — but it was only a one-time occurrence. Unfortunately, there’s no scientific or practical benefit to singing a song on Mars, and it also consumes energy, so it just doesn’t make a lot of sense to do it every year.
— Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) August 4, 2017
Among many other results, Curiosity can boast that it:
- showed that Mars had the right chemistry to support life;
- found organic carbon in Martian rocks;
- found signs of methane in Mars’ atmosphere;
- showed that Mars radiation can be very dangerous to humans;
- found traces of ancient water on Mars;
- found evidence of an ancient streambed, where water may have once flowed.
If you ever wanted to make your own Curiosity rover (well, technically a smaller version of the Curiosity rover), NASA’s got your back: meet the JPL Open Source Rover (OSR): a scaled-down replica of the Curiosity. Freely available, the design can be accessed and download via GitHub, where anyone can get the basic instructions and test plans to build their own.
“We wanted to give back to the community and lower the barrier of entry by giving hands-on experience to the next generation of scientists, engineers, and programmers,” says OSR project sponsor Tom Soderstrom.
Soderstrom says you can build your version of Curiosity for no more than $2,500, using commercially-available parts. Sending it to Mars or a similarly interesting place might be a bit more challenging though.