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Lonely Mars rover sings happy birthday to itself

Curiosity, the car-sized rover exploring Mars for NASA, has sang itself happy birthday to celebrate its sixth anniversary of landing on the planet.
Curiosity landed on Mars on 5 August 2012 after being launched on 26 November 2011."It was born on Mars that day, so we consider that day its birthday," explained NASA's electrical engineer Florence Tan.Ms Tan, who works as part of NASA's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) team, explained how the rover was capable of playing music despite not bringing any musical instruments.She said that it uses SAM, a suite of scientific instruments developed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre, alongside other partners, to buzz out a tune.It includes a number of spectrometers which are capable of getting precise measurements of molecules in Mars' atmosphere.It is also able to study and take soil samples - but needs to be able to shake them up in order to analyse them.
NASA's engineers made it possible for SAM to vibrate - with sound - to shake up these soil samples, and NASA's engineers have programmed SAM to play happy birthday on Curiosity's birthday every year.
Lonely Mars rover sings happy birthday to itself

Image:
NASA's Curiosity rover has been on the planet for six years
Curiosity has set the ground for NASA's new Mars 2020 mission, although a recent study sponsored by NASA has suggested that dreams of transforming the planet into a habitable long-term human colony are scientifically impossible with current technology.Life in some form may already exist there, however, as a large, stable mass of liquid water has been detected beneath the planet's southern ice cap.Salts in the lake are believed to have kept the water - which has a temperature as low as -68C (-90F) - from freezing over.
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Liquid water is an essential requirement for life as we understand it.Conditions in the lake may be harsh - and not suitable for fish or complex organisms - but it is possible some microbes may be able to survive.
news.sky.com
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