@Ingolifs's answer to the question What was the last message to Opportunity today (13 Feb '19)? quotes ArsTechnica's Opportunity did not answer NASA’s final call, and it’s now lost to us:

Late Tuesday night, scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory sent their final data uplink to the Opportunity rover on Mars. Over this connection, via the Deep Space Network, the American jazz singer Billie Holiday crooned "I'll Be Seeing You," a song that closes with the lines...

To me, "Billie Holiday crooned..." suggests that a real audio recording of music was used to modulate the carrier in some way either direct AM or FM, or as digital data via more standard DSN data encoding schemes.

Is there any information available about how it was modulated or encoded?

  • $\begingroup$ related but different: How many times has music been intentionally broadcast to a specific destination in deep space? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Feb 14, 2019 at 2:25
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    $\begingroup$ My answer was very 'shoot from the hip', as I had seen it in a news article moments before. I wasn't able to find much more info about what precisely they sent, and would be keen to know more. $\endgroup$
    – Ingolifs
    Feb 14, 2019 at 2:38
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    $\begingroup$ I'm very curious too. My gut instinct is that they sent it encoded in servo motor commands, like they did for having it sing happy birthday to itself, but I have no sources to back that up. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Feb 18, 2019 at 19:31
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh normally when I make nasa requests it's less than 2, if it was more than that they would charge me but that has not happened yet $\endgroup$
    – Mark Omo
    Feb 19, 2019 at 16:16
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    $\begingroup$ @strugee never heard of MuckRock, it looks very cool! I did not, I normally post the complete response to my requests, see here for an example. $\endgroup$
    – Mark Omo
    Feb 26, 2019 at 2:44

1 Answer 1


TLDR; They didn't.

I submitted NASA FOIA request 19-JPL-F-00295 asking about this, and they responded:

[...] JPL confirmed that the song was not radiated to the spacecraft. It was just played on someone’s laptop in mission control as the transmission began.

So it seems the original story's information had sifted through one too many people or stretched the facts a little bit.

Relevant page of the response:

19-JPL-F-00295 Page 1

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ wow. thoughts and prayers, shocked and saddened. Thank you very much for looking into this. I was hoping to lear about some special NASA DSNMP3 encoding scheme. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Mar 8, 2019 at 16:23
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    $\begingroup$ I really did mean "hear about", not "lear about" ;-) $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Mar 8, 2019 at 23:21

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