Charles Bolden will go down in history as the first man to have his voice sent to another planet, and then returned to Earth by a NASA spacecraft. The NASA Administrator recorded a voice message that was sent to the rover Curiosity, and then relayed back to Earth via the Deep Space Network (DSN).
In his message, the top NASA message acknowledged the difficulties associated with landing a 1-ton robot on the Red Planet, and congratulated the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
(JPL) team in Pasadena, which provides mission management for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL).
The commercial and government partners involved in the project were also mentioned in the voice message, as were the NASA employees that made the project possible. Bolden said that curiosity was, is and will always remain the primary driver of human innovation and exploration.
“The knowledge we hope to gain from our observation and analysis of Gale Crater will tell us much about the possibility of life on Mars as well as the past and future possibilities for our own planet,” the NASA Administrator said.
“Curiosity will bring benefits to Earth and inspire a new generation of scientists and explorers, as it prepares the way for a human mission in the not too distant future,” he went on to say.
Curiosity also sent back a new telephoto camera image of its surroundings, alongside the message. The photo reveals its surroundings, including the low-angle slopes of Mount Sharp. The rover will soon begin its drive towards the 5-kilometer (3-mile) high mountain.
“With this voice, another small step is taken in extending human presence beyond Earth, and the experience of exploring remote worlds is brought a little closer to us all,” NASA Curiosity Program Executive Dave Lavery explains.
“As Curiosity continues its mission, we hope these words will be an inspiration to someone alive today who will become the first to stand upon the surface of Mars. And like the great Neil Armstrong, they will speak aloud of that next giant leap in human exploration,” he adds.
JPL experts says that the new image was collected using the 100-millimeter telephoto lens and the 34-millimeter wide-angle lens of the Mast Camera (Mastcam) instrument.