The voice from Mars: NASA transmits first audio from the Red Planet (plus new photos)

Mars Curiosity


This image taken by the Mast Camera (MastCam) on NASA's Curiosity rover highlights the interesting geology of Mount Sharp, a mountain inside Gale Crater, where the rover landed.

Mars Curiosity


A chapter of the layered geological history of Mars is laid bare in this postcard from NASA's Curiosity rover. The image shows the base of Mount Sharp, the rover's eventual science destination.

Mars Curiosity


The gravelly area around Curiosity's landing site is visible in the foreground. Farther away, about a third of the way up from the bottom of the image, the terrain falls off into a depression (a swale). Beyond the swale, in the middle of the image, is the boulder-strewn, red-brown rim of a moderately-sized impact crater. Father off in the distance, there are dark dunes and then the layered rock at the base of Mount Sharp. Some haze obscures the view, but the top ridge, depicted in this image, is 10 miles (16.2 kilometers) away.

Mars Curiosity


This color panorama shows a 360-degree view of the landing site of NASA's Curiosity rover, including the highest part of Mount Sharp visible to the rover. That part of Mount Sharp is approximately 12 miles (20 kilometers) away from the rover.

NASA announced Monday that it has successfully transmitted a human voice from another planet for the first time ever.

NASA executive Dave Lavery said an audio file of NASA administrator Charles Bolden speaking was sent from the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars.

On the audio file, Bolden congratulated NASA for its achievements, saying the Curiosity rover is inspiring a new generation of scientists and explorers.

“We do recognize that this is a data file that was sent up to the rover, stored on board and then sent back from the surface of Mars," Lavery said.

Lavery said the transmission represents the human missions to Mars they hope will follow in the future.

"Although it’s not quite the true, first-person representation, it is a small step," he said. "It’s an opportunity to extend the human presence virtually beyond our own world.”

It also helped engineers exercise Curiosity’s transmission capabilities to send and receive information on Mars.

NASA has also released new pictures of Mars.

In the foreground, there's gravel and orange and brown ripples of sand. Along the horizon, there are hills and canyons that look similar to the Grand Canyon.

John Grotzinger, a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, said they were surprised by the geologic features they found in the new photos.

“The cool thing here is just that the cameras have discovered something that we were completely ignorant of prior to that," he said. "It’s going to take the science team a lot of work to get at it and probably we’re going to have to drive up there to see what those strata are made out of.”

NASA’s team of scientists and engineers say they ultimately want to drive the car-sized Curiosity rover into the hills and canyons on Mars, but they're about ten kilometers away (or a little more than six miles), so it will take some time.

Even driving continuously, NASA says it would take a hundred days to get there from Curiosity's current location.


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