February 28, 2004 9:19 PM   Subscribe

From R.E.M. to Whitesnake, by way of Tangerine Dream, Buster Poindexter, and the Bobs, here's what the Mars rovers listen to.
posted by Vidiot (11 comments total)
Sweet. Any chance of including those guys in the next MeFiSwap?
posted by arto at 9:36 PM on February 28, 2004

I wonder how many of those songs are mp3's NASA downloaded off the web. The RIAA will be suing the gov't soon enough.
posted by AVandalay at 10:31 PM on February 28, 2004

Bleh... looks like a bunch of middle-managment, focus-group junk to me. With the exception of a few a tracks most of this stuff is just lame. R. Kelly? Huey Lewis? Gimmie a break...

"it shows that NASA people are anything but stuffy"

Yeah well... maybe the problem with NASA isn't that they aren't stuffy enough.

The fact that someone - perhaps several people - on the NASA payroll spends time putting together playlists and then makes this junk public, speaks volumes about how far astray this agency has gone.

Were there playlists during the Apollo missions? How about the Voyager missions? What were people listening to when the Galileo and Hubble missions were completely screwed up?

Get real NASA!!
posted by wfrgms at 11:00 PM on February 28, 2004

Meanwhile, Cassini is getting closer to Saturn.
posted by homunculus at 11:05 PM on February 28, 2004

posted by homunculus at 11:06 PM on February 28, 2004

I liked this. Thanks, Vidiot!
posted by Asparagirl at 11:36 PM on February 28, 2004

It's kinda stupid to formalize it as a PR piece, but NASA has been using music to wake up shuttle astronauts since the start of the program, and because of the numbers of fans who watch this live on NASA TV (or see it occasionally in the regular media), it's a way of generating interest in the program. NASA knows full well that if interest in its programs flags, they risk cancellation. We've reached a point in the Rover missions where interest has flagged and the seemingly routine science missions now dominate, so this is simply a well-timed tickler. You can be somewhere between cynical and pragmatic about that.

As for the actual selection and playing of the music, whether for astronauts or engineers, I think it's pretty much a no-brainer. These aren't hip people, they're just a bunch of baby boomers and their Gen X assistants, and the middle-of-the-road music is mostly selected not for being avant garde in any way, but to match the energy level or event, and often is some kind of ho-hum pun. It's a job, it's a tedious job even at the best of times, and what do we care if they play music to stay motivated?

Or was wfrgms trying to imitate Pitchfork, while managing to sound more like American Bandstand?
posted by dhartung at 12:00 AM on February 29, 2004

Yes, there were playlists during Apollo, but they consisted mainly of Gene Kranz' favorite, John Philip Sousa marches.
posted by deadcowdan at 3:41 AM on February 29, 2004

What, no Martian Hop by the Ran-Dells?
posted by jonmc at 9:50 AM on February 29, 2004

Good grief, snubbed again. Sol 11, "Please Please Tell Me Know" by "Depeche Mode" is actually "Is There Something I Should Know?" by Duran Duran. NASA dudes may be very smart, but they don't know their 80s tunes.
posted by Dreama at 12:28 PM on February 29, 2004

and "Cheryl Crow" is spelled with an "S." But, uh, I'm too hip to know that myself, a friend told me. That's it, a friend, from out of town, that you wouldn't know.
posted by arto at 11:41 PM on February 29, 2004

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