(PASADENA, Calif.) — Making its interplanetary debut, Black Eyed Peas artist will.i.am’s “Reach for the Stars” became the first song to be broadcast to Earth from the Red Planet. NASA’s rover “Curiosity” transmitted the piece on Tuesday from the Martian surface to an audience of students at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
An orchestral piece, the song was inspired by the artist’s passion for technology and space exploration and was part of a larger effort to encourage science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) education.
“Today is about inspiring young people to lead a life without limits placed on their potential and to pursue collaboration between humanity and technology through STEAM education. I know my purpose is to inspire young people, because they will keep inspiring me back,” will.i.am said in a statement.
will.i.am was on hand at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to witness the Curiosity rover landing on Aug. 6. After “Reach for the Stars” made its successful debut, he discussed why he chose an orchestral piece.
“I didn’t want to do a song that was done on a computer, I wanted to show human collaboration and have an orchestra there and something that would be timeless and translated into different cultures — not have a hip-hop beat or a dance beat,” he told the assembled students at the JPL.
It’s not the first time NASA has sent music deep into the cosmos. In 2008, the space agency beamed the Beatles’ “Across the Universe” into space to commemorate its 40th anniversary. In 1977, golden records that included music by Beethoven, Mozart and Stravinsky were placed aboard the Voyager spacecraft on the remote chance they could be discovered by intelligent civilizations.
Proceeds from “Reach for the Stars,” which costs $1.29 on iTunes, will be used to help bring science-focused schools to inner cities, according to will.i.am’s Twitter account.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Barbie Latza Nadeau, Livia Borghese and Joshua Berlinger, CNN
KJ Kwon and Ben Westcott, CNN