HOUSTON, Texas -- Music will debut in deep space when four French tracks arrive at Saturn's largest moon Titan next year. But the project is not without controversy.
The European Space Agency's Huygens space probe left Earth seven years ago aboard a NASA rocket. Among its baggage are recordings of songs composed by French musicians Julien Civange and Louis Haéri.
Critics complained that the music was not well known enough to send into deep space.
"Something more commercial and popular should have been sent," said French musicologist Marcel Juneau in broken English.
NASA officials argued in well-spoken English that even if there is life near Saturn, it is doubtful that any music sent would be recognizable.
"Nonsense," said Juneau. "Everyone knows Sinatra and Aznavour doing great standards."
Still, 12 minutes of French songs are making the 2,500 million-miles journey to "leave a trace of our humanity in the unknown," according to project officials.
"These songs are not any traces of humanity," said English music critic Lorne Fusterfield. "Not for anything, but it would have done just as well to send over recordings of Freddie and The Dreamers."
The anti-French sentiment was also obvious when Canadian music expert Edward Stoll lambasted NASA for not sending an original composition by Paul Anka.
"The project reflects our will to embellish Earth and space with unconventional artistic projects, as well as to familiarize youngsters with space missions and the search for traces of extraterrestrial life ... and disseminate dreams," said Civange.
"Sure," said American record executive Stiff Bowler, "he can say that because his song is on board. Just wait until they start making copies of it and file-sharing it with friends on Neptune and Pluto. Then listen to what he says!"