National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
Science & Technology
Interplanetary Playlist
Color image of people in a control room. The words on a giant screen say "The Beatles: Across the Universe" next to the NASA logo.
Engineers at JPL's mission control initiated a signal telling NASA's Deep Space Network to send the song into space. (Image credit: NASA/JPL)

Adapted from Colin Fries' "Chronology of Wakeup Calls," NASA History Office, June 2010

A new era in music dawned in 1965 when the crew of Gemini 6 was roused to Louis Armstrong singing "Hello Dolly." A NASA tradition was born that continues to this day. The final mission of the Space Shuttle Atlantis in May 2010 was serenaded with a wide range of tunes ranging form Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" to "Empire State of Mind" Alicia Keyes and Jay Z.

In January 2010, NASA added a new twist beaming The Beatles' "Across the Universe" directly into Deep Space. (Read the Story)

The tradition of rousing robots (and, more specifically, the teams that operate them) with music began as a joke.

The Mars Pathfinder team beamed "The Final Frontier" -- the theme from the TV sitcom "Mad About You" as a joke -- since the lander and rover didn't really need the music to wake up. But the team enjoyed it and it became an unofficial tradition. The "Mad About You" production office was surprised the choice and put out a press release noting the unusual use for their theme song. They even used a clip of the Mars team playing the music in the end credits of one of their shows.

The tradition has led to some interesting choices being beamed to spacecraft over the years. They are a testament to the diversity of the mission teams that work on the robotic missions. Some selections from the Mars playlist::

"Three Little Birds," Bob Marley
"In the Mood," Glenn Miller (with live accompaniment Chief Engineer Rob Manning)
"Coisinha Do Pai," Brazilian Samba
"You've Got a Friend," Randy Newman
"Follow You, Follow Me," Genesis
"Sprach Zarathrustra," Richard Strauss (Theme from "2001: A Space Odyssey")
"Roll to Me," Del Amitri
"Let the Good Times Roll," Ray Charles
"So Far Away," Dire Straits
"Life in the Fast Lane," Eagles
"Ride of the Valkyries," Richard Wagner
"Wild, Wild Life," Talking Heads
"Theme from Rawhide," Blues Brothers
"Radar Love," Golden Earring
"Wise Up," Bim Skala Bim
"Dreams," Van Halen
"I'll Be There For You," Rembrandts (Theme from "Friends")
"Long Distance," Kinks
"Learning to Fly," Pink Floyd
"The Way You Look Tonight," Frank Sinatra
"Fantastic, That's You," Louis Armstrong
"Love Me Like a Rock," Paul Simon
"You've Made Me So Very Happy," Blood, Sweat and Tears
"Let Your Fingers Do the Walking," Sort
"The World is Waiting for the Sunrise," Gene Lockhart (father of June Lockhart of "Lost in Space")
"Obscured Clouds," Pink Floyd
"Where the Streets Have No Name," U2
"Mars Rovin'," Tempus Fugit and the Time Travellers

"The function of the Wake-Up Music is as it would suggest, to 'wake-up' the mission team and get them focused on the days activities. As we will see the selection is often a little bit tongue-in-cheek. The music was originally played for the team around the time that the "sweep" was transmitted to the Rover shortly after it woke up. This sweeps the transmit frequency so the Rover's receiver can lock onto it. This occurs at around 8.4 a.m. local time (at the landing site)"

"However this meant the song was being played before many of the team members came-in, so the time was subsequently shifted to 10AM local time. this time most of the crew are on station and ready to begin the 's activities. is the term for a Martian 'Day'. One Martian is 39. minutes longer than one Earth Day. The song (sometimes songs) for each are typically chosen the Mission Managers, in the case of Spirit this is Dr. Mark Adler. The songs are chosen for a link they have with the planned activities for the day"

-NASA Gets Into the Groove! From Above Top Secret News Network, 21 Feb 2004

"The eclectic playlist is Mars rover Spirit mission manager Mark Adler's way of waking exhausted engineers and scientists who are working and sleeping on Mars time and dealing with a sometimes temperamental rover millions of miles away... Below is the Spirit playlist, along with some explanations Adler for why the songs were chosen. A is a Martian day, slightly longer than a day on Earth at 24 hours, 37 minutes."
-"Mars Rocks! Eclectic Music Moves Rover Mission," Robert Roy Britt, 26 Feb 2004, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory Rover Daily Updates.

Spirit's playlist:
"Good Morning, Good Morning," The Beatles.
"Oh What a Beautiful Mornin'," Rodgers and Hammerstein.
"Hail to the Chief," Mormon Tabernacle Choir (Presidential phone call)
"Satisfaction," The Rolling Stones ("I can't get no ...", Air bags not cooperating)
"Get Up, Stand Up," Bob Marley (Lift mechanism actuated)
"Da Da Da," Casaca (Brazilian song suggested investigator from Brazil, RRGTM student that week from Brazil)
"Soak Up the Sun," Cheryl Crow (Laid-back)
"I Can See Clearly Now," Jimmy Cliff (Picture taking)
"Unchained," Van Halen (Cable-cutting)
"Hit the Road Jack," Buster Poindexter (Back up on landing deck)
"Turn, Turn, Turn," The Byrds (Start turn on deck)
"I Get Around," The Beach Boys
"Round and Round," Ratt
"You Spin Me 'Round," Thalia (Rest of turn on landing deck)
"Born to be Wild," Steppenwolf
"Rawhide," Riders in the Sky
"Who Let The Dogs Out?," The Baha Men (Egress)
"Reach Out," The Four Tops (First robotic arm activity)
"You've Got The Magic Touch," The Platters (Touching robotic arm down on Mars)
"If You Love Somebody Set Them Free," Sting
"Roam," The B-2's
"Good Times Roll," The Cars (Last engineering activities, first drive on the surface)
"After Midnight," Eric Clapton
"Trash Day," Weird Al Yankovic (Crew starts Mars day after California midnight, part of the dedicated to deleting contents of flash)
"We Will Rock You," Queen (First arm activities and observations on a rock)
"Sledgehammer," Peter Gabriel (Intended first Rock Abrasion Tool -- RAT -- though ran into problems later, to put it mildly)
"S.O.S.," Abba (Objective was to regain contact with Spirit after a loss of communications. We did)
"Ba, Talk to Me," from the musical Bye Bye Birdie (Objective was to get Spirit to send data. She did)
"Satellite," The Hooters (A rousing lulla for when we were trying, and succeeded, to get the rover to go to sleep)
"We Can Work it Out," The Beatles (Beginning debugging activities to get Spirit back to normal)
"Start Me Up," The Rolling Stones (Booting in crippled mode)
"Flash," Queen (Clearly a flash problem, continuing to debug)
"(You're The) Devil In Disguise," Elvis Presley
"With a Little Help From My Friends," The Beatles (Continuing debug, got picture!)
"I Want a New Drug," Huey Lewis & The News (Trying yet another recipe for getting task trace, still didn't work)
"Anticipation," Carly Simon (Seeing if the file deletes will do the trick or not. They did)
"On the Road Again," Willie Nelson ("Can't wait to get back on ...", back to normal use of the flash file system, itching to get going)
"Here Comes the Sun," The Beatles (More normal operations, Mars Express coordinated overflight)
"Lean On Me," Club Nouveau (Intended RAT brush , pressing RAT on rock, though activities did not complete)
"I Wanna Be Sedated," The Ramones (Very low activity to get the rover rested and ready for surgery on the following )
"Wipe Out," The Surfaris
"We're Not Gonna Take It," Twisted Sister (File system reformat)
"Back In the Saddle Again," Gene Autry
"The Star Spangled Banner," performed Beyonce (Back to normal operations, color flag picture on RAT)
"The Laundry Cycle: Pounded on a Rock," The Bobs
"Bump N' Grind," R. Kelly (First RAT grinding)
"Up Around the Bend," Credence Clearwater Revival (Intended drive around lander to begin drive to crater. Didn't get anywhere though)
"Stuck On You," Elvis Presley (Drive didn't work -- we've been stuck here for weeks. Drive did work later)
"Proud Mary," Tina Turner ("And we're rolling, rolling, rolling on the river ...", first long drive, ended up being more than 20 meters)
"Runnin' With the Devil," Van Halen (HGA [High Gain Antenna] problem that , no activities, song played late in the )
"Hit the Road Jack," Buster Poindexter (Another long drive -- yes, this is a reuse of that song)
"What a Wonderful World," Louis Armstrong (Mars, that is)
"Open Road Song," Eve 6 (Driving song, though only did several inches of driving to position in front of rock)
"Lift Up Every Stone," John Hiatt (Observations of the rock "Mimi")
"Livin' On a Prayer," Bon Jovi (Many s tend to start with our fingers crossed)
"Way Over Yonder," Carole King (Heading for that crater)
"Touch Me in the Morning," Diana Ross (Touch and go )
"Wake Up Little Susie," The Everly Brothers (Generic wakeup song)
"Dig Down Deep," Hot Soup (Trenching )
"Working in the Coal Mine," Devo (Working in the trench)
"Coisinha Do Pai," Beth Carvalho (Brazilian song played on Mars Pathfinder, played again for Carnival weekend)
"Samba De Marte," Beth Carvalho (Brazilian song written by same artist who inspired use of previous song on Mars Pathfinder, this one is a "Mars Samba," also for Carnival weekend. Starts off "Hello NASA!")
"Chariots of Fire," Vangelis (Appropriate for slow-motion races)
"Cold as Ice," Foreigner
"Dust in the Wind," Kansas (anticipation of capturing dust devils spinning across the Martian surface)
"Big Rock in the Road," Pete Wernick (as it made its final approach to the imposing rock called "Humphrey")
"Brush Your Teeth," Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer
"Knock Three Times," Tony Orlando and Dawn
"Walking On Sunshine," Jump
"I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," U2 (to pay homage to its twin rover's amazing findings of water evidence at Meridiani Planum)
"One More Time," The Real McCoy
"Pictures to Prove It," The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
"Motor Away," Guided Voices
"My First Trip to Mars," Atticus Fault
"Livin' on the Edge," Aerosmith (since Spirit is at the edge of Bonneville crater)
"On Top of the World," The Carpenters (The song was fitting, as the drive put Spirit at the rim of "Bonneville" crater, but it took some additional maneuvering to get the rover perfectly placed for the 360-degree panoramic camera images)
"Watching the Wheels," John Lennon
"One Step Closer," The Doobie Brothers (since the rover made its final approach to the rock target named "Mazatzal")
"Open the Door," Otis Redding
"Boy from New York City," The Manhattan Transfer, (in honor of the grind on the New York target)
"Where Is My Mind?" The Pixies (in honor of its software transplant)
"(Take me) Riding in my Car," Woody Guthrie

Opportunity's playlist:
"So Happy Together, the Turtles (First full with both rovers on Mars)
"The Spirit of Radio, Rush (HGA release)
"Stand, REM; I'm Still Standing, Elton John (Standup)
"Lookin' Out My Back Door," Creedence Clearwater (Revival)
"Release Me," Elvis Presley (Middle wheel release)
"Born to Run," Bruce Springsteen (Wake up)
"I'm Free," The Who (Cable Cut #3)
"Going Mobile," The Who (Egress)
"You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet," Bachman-Turner Overdrive (First dual surface nominal rover operation)
"I'm Coiming Out," Diana Ross (IDD release)
"Pictures of You," The Cure (First MI image)
"Please Please Tell Me Know," Depeche Mode (First MB data readout of soil)
"I'm Leaving Here," Motorhead (First drive since egress)
"Little Honda (aka First Gear)," the Beach Boys (Jaunt away from lander)
"Should I Stay or Should I Go," The Clash (We went)
"The Flintstones Theme Song," end credits, Version 2 from 1962 (For the arrival at the "bedrock.")
"Slip Slidin' Away," Paul Simon (Large slips along drive up to the outcrop)
"Wake Me Up," Wham (Touch and go)
"Running Down a Dream," Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (Drive along the outcrop)
"Here I Go Again," Whitesnake (Repeat of 18 drive objective)
"I Like Dirt," Red Hot Chili Peppers; The Pioneers of Mars, Landa/Linsley (MI/MB and drive)
"Send Me On My Way," Rusted Root
"Desert Drive," Tangerine Dream (Drive back to El Capitan)
"Invisible Touch," Genesis (MI-MB placement)
"Spinning Wheel," Blood, Sweat, and Tears (Right front trenching wheel)
"Trench Town Rock," Bob Marley (Make use of the trench)
"Fascination," Human League (Regarding the img return from the trench)
"Body Movin'," The Beastie Boys (Every rover part exercised)
"Touch and Go," Emerson, Lake and Powell (Touch and go)
"I am a Rock," Simon and Garfunkel (El Capitan target assessment)
"Riders on the Storm," The Doors (Heavy weather at DSS-63 and DSS-14)
"Rock 'n Me," Steve Miller Band (1st RAT on Opportunity)
"Rock around the Clock," Bill Haley and His Comets (APXS/MB)
"Let It Be," The Beatles (Long MB integration -- no IDD or mobility)
"Blueberry Hill," Fats Domino (in honor of the hill in front of the rover)
"Dig In," Lenny Kravitz
"I Can See Clearly Now," Jimmy Cliff
"Rock Steady," Sting
"Let's Go," The Cars
"Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" Creedence Clearwater Revival (in honor of the confirmation that liquid water once flowed through the rocks at Meridiani Planum)
"Bad Moon Rising," Creedence Clearwater Revival (in honor of the eclipse caused the Martian moon Deimos)
"On the Road Again," Willie Nelson
"You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)," Bruce Springsteen (in recognition of the fact that the rock abrasion tool grind did not touch the surface of its rock target)
"Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)," Janis Joplin (for the rock abrasion tool's second attempt at "Mojo 2," and "X-ray Eyes"
"Eclipse," Pink Floyd (in recognition of the transit of the Martian moon, Phobos)
"Meet Me Halfway," Kenny Loggins (Opportunity is halfway through its primary 90- surface mission)
"Berry Nice News," Raffi
"Huckling the Berries," Country Cooking (in honor of researching the mysterious "blueberries" with the instruments on the robotic arm)
"No Particular Place to Go" Chuck Berry (in recognition of the stay at "Berry Bowl")
"Jaws: MainTitle and Fist Victim," John Williams
"The Dentist," Bill Cosby (in honor of the toothy targets in "Shark's Cage.")
"Song of the South" Alabama
"Ice Cream Man" (Opportunity woke to this as a reminder of the possible sweet treats that await at targets referred to as "Chocolate Chip" and "Coconut" in the neighborhood dubbed "Mudpie.")
"I Feel The Earth Move" Carole King
"Fly Like an Eagle" The Steve Miller Band
"If You Don't Get it the First Time, Back Up and Try it Again," The JBs and Fred Wesley
"Come on Home," Lambert, Hendricks and Ross (beckoned Opportunity back toward its landing site crater to an area of bright material)
"9th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy)," Simon and Garfunkel
"The Circle of Life," Elton John (in honor of the Lion King panorama)
"Stand," REM
"Back in the Saddle," Aerosmith
"Bounce," Bon Jovi (Opportunity's rock abrasion tool ground into "Bounce" for just over two hours)
"Changes," David Bowie
"Got to Go Back," Van Morrison
"Little Maggie," Tom Adams (chosen for the soil target named "Maggie")
"Truckin'" The Greatful Dead
"The Wanderer," Dion and the Belmonts
"Let the Good Times Roll" B.B. King (a nod to Spirit's successful primary mission of 91 s and a call for more good times)
"Teenage Lobotomy," The Ramones (new flight software)
"I Would Walk 00 Miles," Less Than Jake (originally the Proclaimers)
"Take Me Out to the Ball Game!" (Chosen in honor of all the baseball-related target names)
"Morning has Broken," Cat Stevens
"Hallelujah Chorus" from George Frederic Handel's Messiah
"Dazed and Confused,"Led Zeppelin

Last Updated: 3 February 2011

Science Features
Astronomy Features
Technology Assessment Reports
Sungrazing Comets


Best of NASA Science
NASA Science Highlights
Technology Features
Lectures & Discussions

Awards and Recognition   Solar System Exploration Roadmap   Contact Us   Site Map   Print This Page
NASA Official: Kristen Erickson
Advisory: Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science
Outreach Manager: Alice Wessen
Curator/Editor: Phil Davis
Science Writers: Courtney O'Connor and Bill Dunford
Producer: Greg Baerg
Webmaster: David Martin
> NASA Science Mission Directorate
> Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
> Equal Employment Opportunity Data
   Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
> Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
> Freedom of Information Act
> Privacy Policy & Important Notices
> Inspector General Hotline
> Office of the Inspector General
> NASA Communications Policy
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA
Last Updated: 3 Feb 2011