Curiosity rover celebrates first year on Mars by singing happy birthday to itself

NASA is taking a moment to recap Curiosity's first lonely year on Mars.

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NASA has celebrated the first year of its one-tonne Curiosity rover on Mars by tweaking its sample analyser to play happy birthday on the red planet.

The rover touched down on Mars at the 'Bradbury Landing' on 5 August last year to discover whether the planet could support life.

Roughly the size of a car, the rover has travelled 1.6 kilometres since landing, sent back to Earth more than 36,700 images and, though soil analysis, has helped find an environment well suited to support microbial life on ancient Mars. 

Curiosity has identified carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorous and sulfer on Mars, which would support life, but no methane, traces of which could have suggested living organisms once inhabited the planet.

The rover is currently on its way to the base of Mount Sharp to make its next set of discoveries, but NASA this week took a moment to pay tribute to the robotic explorer with the help of Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM).

As NASA explains, SAM has been programmed to vibrate at various frequencies to help it ingest soil samples collected by Curiosity. For its birthday though, SAM was tasked with playing a more melodious tune than usual after NASA staff at the Goddard Space Flight Centre programmed it play happy birthday instead.