Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Chris Hadfield tells ITV News music helped in space as Nasa revive song tradition as they hope to hear from Mars rover

Music played to inspire a Nasa team to locate their missing rover won't directly lead to its discovery, but it is a great "morale boost" for the team back on the ground, Commander Chris Hadfield told ITV News.

The astronaut shot to fame after posting a video of himself performing David Bowie's Space Oddity from the International Space Station (ISS).

He spoke to ITV News after it emerged that Nasa's Opportunity rover has fallen silent for the first time in its 15 years of service after a heavy dust storm on Mars blocked its main energy source.

Engineers at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are reigniting an old tradition of playing specially themed songs back on Earth as the team attempt to wake up the rover.

Space.com suggested the following appropriate tracks:

Sorry, this content isn't available on your device.

As of June 10 an "unprecedented" storm the size of North America and Russia combined blotted out the sun, meaning the rover lost power - and two months later it still hasn't recharged.

Now scientists are sending a "command three times a week" via NASA's Deep Space Network "to elicit a beep if the rover happens to be awake".

And to keep the team motivated in the search, there's a background of hits being played out at the California base.

While the songs won't be sent through space in a bid to find the rover, Cmdr Hadfield told ITV News music did have a big impact on him while he was on the ISS.

"They [the control team on the ground] would send us music, and there's nothing like music to bring you back home and remind you of someplace you've been, so I think it's really good for the morale of the crew who are supporting Opportunity," he said.

He continued that he hoped the rover would "give itself a little shake and wake up", allowing the team to "get back in the business of exploring Mars".

The Canadian astronaut, who is not involved in the rover team's project, understood why playing music and humanising Opportunity was so important to the team in California: "It's [Opportunity] their baby, it's their child, it's their friend, and so it becomes a living being."

He recognised the power of music to motivate the Nasa staff, saying: "A lot of it's just for the crew back in Pasadena who've really got their fingers crossed that they can bring Opportunity back to life."

A Space Oddity? Commander Chris Hadfield performs in the ISS. Credit: Twitter/Chris Hadfield

The Opportunity rover was sent up to the Red Planet 15 years ago to investigate 'Life on Mars' but after the heavy dust storm it hasn't powered back up.

The rover shut down because 'Dust in the Wind' obscured access to its main power source, the sun.

For scientists 'it seems like years since it's been here' but In 'Times Like These' they must try whatever means necessary to keep the rover 'Alive'.

When the rover landed on Mars in 2004, scientists told it 'Keep Yourself Alive' for at least 90 days, its estimated life expectancy - but it kept on going.

In its early days scientists would play the rover a song every morning to wake it up, but, somewhat of a 'Space Oddity', 'The Trooper' carried on way longer than three months, so they gave up the daily wake-up call.

Now they've been 'hanging on like a yo-yo' for two months, but Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer Michael Staab 'Won't Back Down', telling Space.com "we’ll just keep playing until she talks to us".

"This is the first time she [Opportunity] has stopped talking to us and not resumed communication when we expected," Staab added."

The Opportunity rover took snaps of its light source the sun being blotted out by dust. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/TAMU

When its power ran out scientists didn't think it was 'Going to be a Long, Long Time before it came back to life however scientists are starting to worry.

The storm is clearing but NASA can't tell how long it might take Opportunity's batteries to charge or whether it will sleep forever.

If science continues to progress, maybe NASA will be able to send a 'Rocket Man' engineer up there to work on the rover by hand.

Until then though, scientists hope the rover will emulate the passion of Gloria Gaynor, who defiantly sang 'I Will Survive'.