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Will.i.am premieres song -- from Mars

By Faith Karimi, CNN
updated 5:44 AM EDT, Wed August 29, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "Reaching for the Stars" by will.i.am is beamed from the Red Planet
  • The song, which features a 40-piece orchestra, celebrates Mars' landing
  • It also aims to encourage youth to study science

(CNN) -- Rapper will.i.am can boast of an accomplishment that is out of this world: His latest single premiered from Mars, making it the first song to debut on another planet.

The Black Eyed Peas singer wrote the song, "Reaching for the Stars," to mark the successful landing of NASA's Curiosity rover on the Red Planet this month.

A far cry from his regular hip-hop tunes, it features a 40-piece orchestra set to a futuristic beat.

The song is set to transcend time and cultures, he said.

The Mars rover Curiosity does a test drill on a rock dubbed "Bonanza King" to see if it would be a good place to dig deeper and take a sample. But after the rock shifted, the test was stopped. The NASA rover has now spent two years on the red planet. Curiosity set off from Earth in November 2011 and landed nearly nine months later -- 99 million miles away. Click through to see more of its images. The Mars rover Curiosity does a test drill on a rock dubbed "Bonanza King" to see if it would be a good place to dig deeper and take a sample. But after the rock shifted, the test was stopped. The NASA rover has now spent two years on the red planet. Curiosity set off from Earth in November 2011 and landed nearly nine months later -- 99 million miles away. Click through to see more of its images.
Mars rover Curiosity
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Photos: Mars rover Curiosity Photos: Mars rover Curiosity
Hear NASA's message to Mars

"Mars has always fascinated us, and the things Curiosity tells us about it will help us learn about whether or not life was possible there," said Charles Bolden, the NASA administrator. "And what future human explorers can expect, will.i.am has provided the first song on our playlist of Mars exploration."

The song was unveiled during a news conference Tuesday at a NASA laboratory in Pasadena, California. The playback included Martian photos of eroded knobs, gulches on a mountainside and exposed geological layering.

Flight director Bobak Ferdowsi, aka "Mohawk Guy," gave a thumbs up and hit the play button, sending his teammates beaming, swaying and clapping.

"Why do they say the sky is the limit," will.i.am sings, "when I've seen the footprints on the Moon."

The tune -- which aims to encourage youth to study science -- completed a trip of more than 300 million miles from Earth to Mars and back, according to NASA.

"And I know that Mars might be far, but baby it ain't really that far," will.i.am goes on. "Let's reach for the stars."

In addition to the singer, students also attended the event in Pasadena, where they asked questions about the Curiosity mission and the song's interplanetary transmission.

"This is about inspiring young people to lead a life without limits placed on their potential and to pursue collaboration between humanity and technology," will.i.am said.

While will.i.am has the first song, NASA also accomplished another feat this week. Bolden's became the first human voice broadcast from another planet.

The space agency's accomplishments are the latest in a series of advances aimed at making science more cool.

NASA beamed The Beatles' "Across the Universe" into space on February 4, 2008.

The song marked the anniversary of the day The Beatles recorded the song and the 50th year of NASA's founding.

An excited Paul McCartney welcomed the beaming of the song written by fellow Beatle John Lennon.

"Amazing! Well done, NASA!" McCartney said in a message to the space agency at the time. "Send my love to the aliens."

Despite the complexity of landing a 2,000-pound vehicle on another planet, Curiosity had a perfect landing on August 6, and most of the instruments scientists have tested appear to function.

Curiosity is sending back more data from the surface of Mars than the combined results of all of NASA's previous rovers, the space agency said.

Last week, it completed its first drive on Mars, setting the stage for it to venture farther afield.

There's only been one glitch so far: a wind sensor on the rover's weather station was damaged and the reason might always remain mysterious, scientists say.

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