LOS ANGELES – NASA transmitted the first song to be broadcast from Mars on Tuesday, by Grammy-winning musician will.i.am, as part of efforts to get young people interested in science.
“Reach for the Stars” was beamed back to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, by the Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars earlier this month.
“It seems surreal,” the rapper and actor said explaining how NASA administrator Charles Bolden had called him to suggest the idea as part of educational outreach efforts by the U.S. space agency.
The song involves a 40-piece orchestra including French horns, rather than a more modern electronically-generated sound.
The singer said he didn’t “want to do a song that was done on a computer,” given that it was going to be the first piece of music broadcast from Mars.
“I wanted to show human collaboration and have an orchestra there and something that would be timeless, and translated in different cultures, not have like a hip-hop beat or a dance beat,” he said.
“A lot of times … people in my field aren’t supposed to try to execute something classical, or orchestral, so I wanted to break that stigma,” the 37-year-old — real name William James Adams — told students gathered at the JPL.