back to article Mars rover harangues empty landscape with loudhailer

Curiosity, the nuclear-powered laser raygun rover recently landed on the surface of Mars by NASA, has begun shouting propaganda messages from Earth at the apparently empty desert which it is currently patrolling. A speaker on the car-sized robotic vehicle was used to issue a message from NASA chief Charles Bolden, a former US …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Uh, surely they didn't waste rocket fuel getting a PA up the gravity well?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      At a guess, it's conceivable that using a calibrated speaker and microphone might tell them something about sound propagation in the Martian atmosphere. But since IANAScientist, I have no idea if they sent a PA system or if that might be why they sent it.

      1. dssf

        Let 'er rippppp

        But, is one of the tracks "I'm REALLY lookin' fer a gas giant bigger than Uranus"?

        A gas giant larger than Uranus... Lol....

      2. Charles Manning

        All you need for science...

        Well actually you need bugger all to find out how sound propagates on Mars. If you know what the gas mix and pressure is you can just reproduces everything right here on earth.

        If you really want to run tests on Mars then a small transducer set (less than 20 grams) is enough. The physics will be the same for a small transducer or a rock concert.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What if the martians don't understand English?

      1. Nights_are_Long

        They do if you shout loud and slow enough.

  2. AndyS

    Just a question

    Why does Curiosity have speakers on board at all?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just a question

      > Why does Curiosity have speakers on board at all?

      How else were they supposed to play Ride of the Valkyries as she landed?

      1. Thomas 4
        IT Angle

        Re: Just a question

        If I had to hazard a guess, it's to do with projecting sounds and then recording the echos back from the surrounding terrain. Possibly an exercise in measuring sound propogation in a different atmosphere and environment.

    2. Peter Simpson 1

      A better question

      Does it have a subwoofer?

  3. Wize

    Did anyone reply?

    Any Martians shouting back "Oi, keep it down. You'll wake the kids. Aww, that's them up now. It took hours to settle them down..."

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge


      Just behind the next boulder...

      "Wir müssen die Rückkehr zur Erde jetzt mit äusserster Kraft vorantreiben! Stellt mir sofort eine Telefonverbindung mit Doktor Kessler auf!"

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

        Re: Uh-huh

        Hmmm. Google says:

        We must return to Earth now press ahead with extreme force! Provides me immediately to a phone connection with Doctor Kessler!

        1. Alan Newbury
          Big Brother

          Re: Uh-huh

          Iron Sky?

  4. Chris McFaul

    From what i can gather, it doenst have speakers - the message was simply relayed VIA the rover.. it was never played out loud to an empty martian desert.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      How disappointing.

      They are also going to broadcast the new Will.I.Am single by radio back to earth as part of some "get the kids into science" effort... not sure how easy it is to pick the signal up or if amateurs have the needed equipment?

      1. JeffyPooh Silver badge


        "...not sure how easy it is to pick the signal up..."

        Damn near impossible.

        "...or if amateurs have the needed equipment?"

        Not a chance. Not even close.

    2. Gav

      totally pointless

      So no matter which way you look at it; a totally pointless operation.

      Don't they have some science they could be doing??

      1. Aaron Em

        Science, pah

        Forget science -- they've got some funding they could be earning!

      2. FormerKowloonTonger

        Re: totally pointless

        Seriously.....what on earth (no pun intended) prompted you to post that silliness....."just because"?

    3. Timbo

      So, who's wrong ?

      To quote El Reg "A speaker on the car-sized robotic vehicle was used..."

      To Quote CMF: "From what i can gather, it doenst have speakers...."

      (OK so the pedants will say it has only ONE speaker, rather than "speakers")

      1. Chris McFaul

        As usual, it was El Reg who was wrong...

        I just watched the BBC news and one of the first things the reporter said was "Although the rover doesn't have any speakers on board..."

        and continues to say how this is the first audio broadcast from another planet...

        basically its the first interplanetary spotify

      2. Chris McFaul

        If you believe the BBC...

        "But with no speakers on the rover, the track was not played on the red planet itself."

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But to the locals...

    Unfortunately, in Martian, that speech sounds rather like "Go stick your head in a pig".

    1. Arbee

      Re: But to the locals...

      Do they have pigs on Mars?

      1. peyton?

        Re: But to the locals...

        Of course. Why else would the rover have to drive so slow?

      2. Geoff May

        Do they have pigs on Mars?

        They have Essex lions.

        1. Chris Miller

          Re: Do they have pigs on Mars?

          They used to have lions, but everyone knows: Curiosity killed the cat.

          Thanks, it's the one trimmed in Orluk fur.

    2. Chris Miller

      Re: But to the locals...

      "Go stick your head in a Banth".


  6. The Alpha Klutz

    wouldnt they be pissed

    if a martian came along and turned the rover off.

  7. The Axe


    And they're doing the same thing with a song by

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Will.I.Am

      Now that's a declaration of war in any language.

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: Will.I.Am

      He should be there as well, listening to the rover playing his song.

  8. Pastafarian

    Has it got a microphone?

    To hear the reply. Otherwise there is no point.

  9. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    at that very moment...

    ... the words "Hello. This is Charlie Bolden, NASA Administrator, speaking to you via the broadcast capabilities of the Curiosity Rover" drifted across the conference table. Unfortunately, in the Martian tongue, that was the most dreadful insult imaginable and there was nothing for it but to wage terrible war for centuries.

    So, that's it. We're all going to die.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: at that very moment...

      But you forgot the outcome:

      "After millennia of battle the surviving Martians realised what had actually happened, and joined forces to attack the Milky Way in retaliation. They crossed vast reaches of space in a journey lasting thousands of years before reaching their target where they attacked the first planet they encountered, Earth. Due to a terrible miscalculation of scale the entire battle fleet was swallowed by a small dog. "

      So, quick, deploy the small dog brigade...

    2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      The correct form of words, as I recall, is,

      "So this is it - we're going to die."


      "Is there any tea on this spaceship?"


      "I, for one, welcome our new stentorian overlords."

    3. Syldra

      Re: at that very moment...

      Nah... you know they all speak proper English... haven't you watched Stagate SG-1 ?

  10. GotThumbs

    Could this be an early warning....

    Any Martians who heard this advanced announcement of invasion have begun preparations. :-)

    I support the exploration of space, but I find the message pointless. Hey, anyone with access to a microphone is going to use it. Next step it to pipe elevator music to the Moon.

    Best wishes,

  11. ijustwantaneasylife

    Just wondering...

    ... to use that age old question - if nobody's there to hear it, would it make any sound at all?

    1. Ru

      Re: Just wondering...

      Wrong question.

      If there's nobody there to hear it, how much money could you save by not launching any audio equipment and simply faking the whole silly exercise? Or perhaps even, 'am I a more deserving cause than a daft and easily faked audio broadcast on another planet?'

      On a related note, any of the engineering heads recently bought themselves a new sports car?

    2. nematoad Silver badge

      Re: Just wondering...

      I'm not sure that it would make any sound anyway. Or at least not much.

      Given that the atmospheric pressure on Mars is about 1% of that on Earth Bolden would have to have been very SHOUTY to even have been heard.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Since the beginning of time, humankind’s curiosity has led us..."

    Humankind wasn't present at the beginning of time. In fact we didn't start getting curious for an awful long time after that.

    1. Purlieu


      Since time is a human invention, yes we have been there since the beginning of time.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Time

        Since time is a human invention

        Yeah? Who got the patent on that then?

        In human terms, the measurement of time might be a human invention, but I think we can be fairly sure that things happened in a sort of sequential order, one after another, long before humans were invented.

        There's at least one tribe who have no words or even gestures to represent numbers, so they probably have a very odd, if any, concept of time. Maybe we could licence that IP to them?

        1. TheOtherHobbes

          Re: Time

          "Yeah? Who got the patent on that then?"


          Go on. Ask me a hard one.

        2. LateNightLarry

          Re: Time

          Apple will have a patent on time by Friday, retroactive to the beginning of time.

          Beer... a substitute for the wine I keep asking for... You can get drunk quicker on wine than on many kinds of beer, and red wine has health benefits as well...

      2. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Time

        Since time is a human invention

        No, Time is a continuous, measurable quantity in which events occur in a sequence proceeding from the past through the present to the future. Stephen Hawking has stated that time actually began with the Big Bang, therefore to our limited ability to perceive things, time has always existed.

        You're probably thing of the human invention of the units of temporal measurement, such as Hours, minutes etc.

        Paris, 'cos I said "big bang"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Erm, hello..... we all know, God made us, and everything else, around 6000 years ago. Therefore we were around at the beginning of time. Read ya Bible sonny!

    3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      >Humankind wasn't present at the beginning of time

      It was in Texas - or at least within the first week.

    4. Midnight

      But the beginning of Time was at midnight, January 1st of 1970. We were already going to the Moon back then.

    5. blearrgh


      Time is an illusion. Lunchtime, doubly so.

  13. SirDigalot

    i thought it would say...

    Hello World!

    Not being happy with having a stereo powered suvs on the planet earth we have shipped one to another planet too, did they give it spinners? why else do you think it needs a nucular reactor? it has to power the 15 inch subs, which admittedly will sound quite pathetic in the thin martian atmosphere, but the pretty blue neon tubes will look awesome..

    my guess is that speaker probably has more sciency-wiency stuff behind it then a simple radio shack project speaker, however the more i see and hear of this the more i am thinking johnny 5....

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: i thought it would say...

      OMFG! We've sent a BMW X6 to Mars?

      1. LaeMing Silver badge

        Re: We've sent a BMW X6 to Mars?

        The Martians, for one, welcome global warming on their planet.

      2. JeffyPooh Silver badge

        Re: i thought it would say...

        Forget BMW.

        If I found a few billion dollars under my bed, then I'd hatch a secret program to place a VW Beetle on the surface of Mars, somewhere within distant camera shot along the planned Rover path. It'd be worth every penny.

  14. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    The more I read about things like this the more I'm starting to suspect that they actually expect to meet extraterrestrials over there. Speakers and microphones? There are way more efficient ways of investigating the Martian atmosphere than this, and equally NASA wouldn't put this equipment on the rover just to satisfy a school experiment (back-of-envelope calculations put the cost of 1kg extra cargo at about $27m)...

    1. LaeMing Silver badge

      They are USians in a foreign place.

      They do all their information gathering by shouting at things.

    2. Bounty

      "(back-of-envelope calculations put the cost of 1kg extra cargo at about $27m)..."

      A 1kg speaker? Do you think they put woofers on there? I'm guessing it's probably a 3g peizo speaker. At around 900kg total weight and a cost of 2.5 billion, that would put a 3g speaker at about 8,333$. A little much, but just a bit short of 27 million.

  15. Haku



  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gale Crater

    Was there a sign post in the ground that called it Gale Crater, or is that a name NASA have given it? - just wondered, as otherwise the message will mean jack shit to anyone listening.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The fact that the message wasn't 'Good morning Vietnaaaaaam, this is not a test, THIS IS ROCK AND ROLL!' goes to show how utterly out of touch NASA are.

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      already done...

      By Robin Williams as a wake-up call on Shuttle flight STS-26

  18. Chunky Lafunga

    Yak yak yak

    We come in Peace

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Yak yak yak

      They have Yaks on Mars??

      Who knew...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The overt nationalism in Charles Bolden's speeches is quite sickening. No person or nation exists in separation from it's surroundings. We are all interdependent and connected.

    I prefer this: "Fanatical ethnic or religious or national identifications are a little difficult to support when we see our planet as a fragile blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light against the bastion and citadel of the stars." -Carl Sagan

  20. Richard Scratcher

    Useful Kit

    When it's in a canyon or a short distance away from a vertical rock face it can shout yodel-ay-he-hee! and then determine the speed of sound in Mar's thin atmosphere by timing the echo.

    So putting a speaker on the rover makes sense. The spinning hub caps and furry dice though....

    1. petur

      Re: Useful Kit

      "When it's in a canyon or a short distance away from a vertical rock face it can shout yodel-ay-he-hee! "

      And cause a stone avalanche that buries the rover :)

    2. JeffyPooh Silver badge

      Re: Useful Kit

      Speed of sound can be calculated from first principles, if the atmospheric gases, pressure and such are known. There's zero scientific payback for measuring it... ...unless "PV = nRT and a half" on Mars.

  21. Andy 97


    It's very exciting to be alive when people can actually do this.

    Is the atmosphere dense enough to support sound to a microphone?

    "hey earthlings, enough with the autotune crap please..."

    1. Dr_Cynic

      Re: Amazing..

      There is sufficient atmosphere for sound propagation. There has even been a significant amount of work investigating the use of ultrasonic anemometers to measure wind velocity on Mars initially to go on the previous NASA lander, and still being considered for the next European lander (if it ever gets off the ground as it has already been postponed numerous times).

      The attenuation is higher, both due to the thin atmosphere and the absorption in carbon dioxide is higher. The acoustic velocity only depends on temperature and gas composition, pressure has no effect on velocity.

  22. Big_Boomer

    Number Five is ALIVE!

    Must be Number 5.

    Has a LASER, is mobile, apparently can speak even if it does sound like some General.

    Has also already suffered one short-circuit.

    Any bets on some NASA geek sending a message that shouts "All your planet are belongz to us!" <LOL>

  23. Trainee grumpy old ****

    And even as we speak

    A noise abatement notice is being stuck onto a Martian wall.

  24. Andus McCoatover

    They don't think, do they?

    If they'd sent a copy of Learn English 101 onboard with Spirit or Opportunity (maybe American 101...) anyone listening on Mars might have had a clue what he was talking about.

    Listening to the recording, reading the transcript, I think I might need a copy also....

  25. Joe User

    Mars rover harangues empty landscape with loudhailer

    Pipe down, I'm trying to sleep over here!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And again...

    ...we realize that Satire is dead: out-competed by Reality...

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just Wait

    Just wait for the yellow tape to get wrapped across the camera and they get towed.

  28. David Dingwall

    Now hold on there - actually how did it sound?

    Noticed the NASA replay was Earth normal almosphere.

    Some geek out there must be able to run the speech through a wiggle-scope and replay it as it would sound at Martian atmosphere pressure.

    Just saying.

  29. Grendel
    Paris Hilton

    Surely it should have been Shatner?

    Surely the correct speech would have been:

    ... "Mars: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Mars rover Curiosity. Its two-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before" ...

    voiced by William Shatner?


    PS. Why Paris? Because she probably things that Mars is a chocolate bar :-)

    1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

      Re: Surely it should have been Shatner?

      The Shat then bursts into song....

      "We come in peace, shoot to kill, shoot to kill...."

      RE: Paris and the mars bar, just think about that urban legend about Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithful[1].

      [1] Urban legend: It was actually a Snickers.

  30. mickey mouse the fith

    It would be interesting to hear the martian wind blowing, hope it sounds like distorted chickens as heard on that dreadful mission to mars film of a few years ago.

  31. roger stillick

    NASA announces we're coming...

    This audio announcement ( We Will be here Soon ) is probably the wildest thing we have done to date in Space Exploration by NASA...

    Well, There were those Golden Records on Voyager 1 , 2 ...

    I'm agreeing with Grendel= Shatner should have done it, He said it so many times, we believe him...

  32. NomNomNom

    They had to put the speakers on for health and safety when the rover is reversing. "Warning, this rover is reversing. Warning: This rover is reversing"

  33. Jonski


    The actual first broadcast was:

    All your base are belong to us. You have no chance to survive make your time.

    (The fact of the broadcast happening has been suppressed by the Zero Wing conspiracy)

  34. dssf


    Tan Ru ... Steh ril lize...

    "*I* am Jackson Roykirk... You will CHANGE your DIRECtive....

    Steh rill lize.. Sterile lies....

  35. Arachnoid

    So we shoot at em with lasers and now we harang them in gibberish to "Come out and fight!".

    No wonder we are so paranoid about a Martian invasion.

  36. Sarah Davis

    "Only America Has Succeeded" !?

    i thought it was a multinational affair with multinational funding (and the majority of the scientists are actually not american) - how un-american to claim all the credit,.. oh wait a sec,.. didn't they also win WW2 on their own as well

  37. ams

    Split infinitive

    I can't believe nobody has pointed out that NASA have only gone and boldly split an infinitive where nobody has done so before.

    Coincidence? I doubt it.

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