This article is over 5 years old and may contain outdated information.

Science & Tech

Watch NASA's Curiosity Rover sing 'Happy Birthday' to itself on Mars

August 5, 2016 marks four years since Curiosity landed on the red planet

  • Aug 05, 2016
  • 189 words
  • 1 minutes
The Curiosity Rover on Mars Expand Image

NASA’s Curiosity Rover landed on Mars on August 5, 2012 (Pacific Time), which makes today its fourth Martian “birthday.” Each year, to celebrate, Curiosity’s handlers use the rover’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument to “sing” it “Happy Birthday.”

SAM’s job is to collect and analyze soil samples from the red planet. When SAM ingests a soil sample, it vibrates at various frequencies, producing sound. In the video below, SAM scientist Florence Tam explains how the Curiosity team are able to get the instrument to sound the notes of “Happy Birthday.”

Since September 11, 2014, Curiosity has been exploring the terrain around Mount Sharp, a 5,500-meter peak within Mars’ Gale Crater that is expected to hold significant clues to the planet’s formation and geological history. According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in its four years, Curiosity has returned more than 128,000 images, fired its laser more than 362,000 times and driven 13.5 kilometres. 

The rover’s mission was recently extended through October 2018, and its handlers are hoping to use it to explore three distinct geological “units” or rock layers on the lower slopes of Mount Sharp.


Are you passionate about Canadian geography?

You can support Canadian Geographic in 3 ways:

Related Content

mars rover nasa

Science & Tech

Canadian scientist joins NASA’s first mission to bring samples from Mars back to Earth

Chris Herd is the only Canadian on the Mars rover sample return team

  • 830 words
  • 4 minutes
The moon in shadow

Science & Tech

Canadian rover set to land on moon within five years

The unmanned vehicle will collect imagery and data of the surface the moon

  • 415 words
  • 2 minutes

Science & Tech

Canada’s first moon mission

A Canadian-built rover will hunt for water in the moon’s south polar region as early as 2026

  • 472 words
  • 2 minutes
moon lunar space


Smaller companies helping shoot for the moon in new Canadian Space Agency push

CSA astronaut Jeremy Hansen says space exploration represents a major economic opportunity for Canada

  • 675 words
  • 3 minutes