It’s one of the most exciting missions in NASA’s history, and certainly one that’s been capturing the public’s imagination. The latest mission to Mars has renewed considerable interest in the space program, and inspired at least a few television programs here on Earth to help viewers at home to share in the excitement of the discoveries that are taking place as I write this. Science’s offering, i.am.mars: Reach for the Stars, premiering Wednesday, Sept. 19 at 10pm ET/PT, documents the artistic and technical process that led to recording star will.i.am’s newest single, “Reach for the Stars” becoming the first song broadcast to Earth from another planet.
It’s sort of an odd mix, the juxtaposition of the Curiosity’s mission to acquire information and images from the Red Planet with something so thoroughly pop culture. It’s not the first time that Earth culture and the space program have met, but i.am.mars: Reach for the Stars (unsurprisingly executive produced by will.i.am) seizes this particular moment to provide a window into will.i.am’s creative process and the making of the song itself — with full children’s choir and orchestra — as well as the various engineering challenges its uploading to Curiosity presented to NASA, and what it took to accomplish the 700 million-mile interplanetary broadcast.
i.am.mars: Reach for the Stars is rooted in will.i.am’s passion for science and his wish to inspire a new generation of scientists through STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. Maybe someday, generations away, the will.i.am effect will have people performing on the Red Planet. But for now, it’s time to enjoy and learn.