On Tuesday, August 28th, the NASA rover Curiosity made history — by hosting the first ever rock concert on Mars. The audience, a group of students, listened from their home planet. Or, more specifically, from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The man behind the music? will.i.am, singer of the Black Eyed Peas and perennial advocate for making understanding science cool. Debuting your new single on Mars? If you ask us, it doesn’t get much cooler than that.

The song, appropriately titled “Reach for the Stars” was originally uploaded to the rover before it was launched. 23 days after Curiosity’s initial landing on August 5th, the track was beamed from the red planet to Earth, a journey totaling over 352 million miles. To get a better idea of that distance, imagine over 198,864 football fields laid end to end.

will.i.am’s lyrics were one part homage, one part inspirational. In the singer’s words, “The point of the song is to remind people … that anything is possible if you discipline yourself and dedicate yourself and stand for something.” It’s a message imparted with simple, but meaningful lyrics:

Why they say the sky is the limit
When i’ve seen the footprints on the moon
Why they say the sky is the limit
When i’ve seen the footprints on the moon
And I know the sky might be high
But baby it ain’t really that high
And I know that Mars might be far
But baby it ain’t really that far
Let’s reach for the stars

More than a computer-generated dance song, the track includes the work of a 40-piece orchestra. “I didn’t want to do a song that was done on computer. I wanted to show human cooperation and have an orchestra there, and something that would be timeless, and translate to different cultures,” said will.i.am. The song also includes singing from a student choir.

The theme of achievement is no accident, either.  In fact, the students attending the Pasadena concert were from will.i.am’s hometown. “There’s no words to explain how amazing this is,” will.i.am told the crowd. “These kids here are from Boyle Heights, the same neighborhood I’m from. We don’t have to just end up in the ‘hood. But it’s a hard thing. The hardest thing is discipline.”

This isn’t the first time will.i.am has been a champion of understanding science and learning with technology. His one-hour television special “i.am FIRST — Science is Rock and Roll” aired last year. The special provided an inside look at the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Championship, a K-12 robotics competition, while featuring commentary and appearances from celebrities from Justin Bieber to Bono.

While some naysayers are decrying the song and questioning the choice of will.i.am as Mar’s musical ambassador, here at the Spark Network, we think they’re missing the point. Whether you love his music or hate it, will.i.am is using his celebrity to get children of all backgrounds and privilege levels excited about understanding science. And honestly– how can that be anything but a good thing?

To watch will.i.am address the crowd and to hear Reach for the Stars for yourself head over to NASA’s website. Then share your reactions in a comment below.