If the first nine notes of this instrumental sound fairly cosmic to you then that's entirely fitting: together they comprise the first ever melody sent to Mars. Composed by British band Blur, this short jingle (expanded into a full song above) was the call-sign for the UK's Beagle 2 lander. This mission to Mars went AWOL in 2003 after detaching from its orbiter, but today it was announced that NASA's cameras have spotted the craft intact on the planet's surface. This means that Blur's nine notes made it as well.
Blur's melody was "probably played on Mars" says mission manager
The inclusion of call-sign written by one of the country's then biggest bands was part of the Beagle team's media-friendly tactics to drum up interest in the mission. Damien Hirst, another '90s British superstar also got involved: creating one of his signature spot paintings to serve as a calibration chart for instruments onboard the Beagle. And this pair of artistic creations didn't just make the 54.6-million-kilometer journey to the planet — Beagle's mission manager Mark Sims was also quoted today as saying that Blur's melody was "probably played on Mars."
This isn't the first human music to make it off-planet of course. The golden records onboard the Voyager spacecraft contain an eclectic playlist including Bach, Beethoven, Chuck Berry, and Blind Willie Johnson. In 2012 will.i.am's single "Reach for the Stars" became the first ever music broadcast from Mars to Earth. And as far as music played out loud goes, well, the Curiosity rover probably holds the title: in August 2013 it used its soil analysis system to vibrate a buzzy rendition of "Happy Birthday To You" from Mars. For my liking though, Blur still holds the title for "best space music" simply for their single "Far Out" — the lyrics of which are mostly just a list of moons and stars, including the catchy line: "Phoebe, Io, Elara, Leda, Callisto, Sinope, Janus, Dione, Portia. So many moons!"