NASA accomplished something amazing and exciting last night, landing a 6-wheeled nuclear powered mobile laboratory on the surface of Mars. Read that again. Here’s a round up of Curiosity related internet.
The first picture beamed back by Curiosity.
The Mars Science Library’s page is packed with info.
The landing, described as “7 Minutes of Terror”, was accomplished by shooting the rover in a capsule through Mars’ atmosphere, and then lowering it on a supersonic parachute. Then a shelf detached from the parachute used rockets to slow itself further, and lowered the rover down to the surface. Watch a video about it.
Another good description of the difficulty of the landing in The Independent.
You can watch the entire news conference about the landing.
Here’s a video of the control room monitoring the landing. They were, understandably, excited. If you want to see the actual landing and celebration, check out 3:10. “Now let’s see where Curiosity will take us.”
Curiosity was a bit late.
The successful landing helps wash away the missionâ€™s troubled beginnings. Originally it was to cost $1.6 billion and was scheduled to launch in fall 2009, but it encountered a cascade of technical hurdles and cost overruns.
NASA officials faced a difficult choice: to rush to meet the launch date or miss it, waiting 26 months until the next time that Mars and Earth lined up in the proper positions.
They chose to wait, even though that added hundreds of millions of dollars to the price tag, bringing it to $2.5 billion.
It was NASA’s “Mission of the Decade.”
Described by top NASA officials as their â€œmission of the decade,â€ the just-delivered rover will search for the building blocks extraterrestrial life as well as investigate how and why Mars turned from a wet and warm planet into the dry and cold place it is now. The complex, precision landing and sophisticated instruments being used on the mission could hasten the day when humans fly to Mars as well.
â€œWeâ€™re about to do something that I think is just huge for humankind â€” put this chemistry lab on the surface of Mars that can rove, that can see, and thatâ€™s going to provide scientists on Earth a glimpse into the past history of Mars,â€ NASAâ€™s chief scientist John Grunsfeld concluded a few hours before the landing.
For a good time, you can follow Curiosity on Twitter. NASA wrote a pretty good robot program so the Tweets are informative and funny. Also you can follow “the mohawk scientist” Bobak Ferdowski, and the “rockabilly scientist” Adam Steltzner. Here’s some art inspired by Ferdowski. And some art featuring both Ferdowski and Steltzner. From the LA Times a bunch of Curiosity related Tweets.
It is the summer of GIFs.
What it means.
Curiosity is expected to revolutionize deep-space science, not only searching for indications that Mars is or was habitable, but paving the way for the next critical steps in exploration â€” soil-sample returns, sending astronauts to Mars, even, perhaps, colonization.
Celebration we normally see from athletes from scientists and engineers.
It may have sounded a bit jingoist around JPL at times, but the truth is that only the United States has had the knowledge and moxie to successfully land a vehicle on Mars. We have now done it seven times, and no other nation has really come particularly close. And with the touchdown of the one-ton and highly sophisticated Curiosity, the U.S. has reached a whole new level of expertise.
An Inside Look at the Mars Curiosity Rover.
Mars Curiosity in pictures. And another. And one from NASA.
Just in case you wanted to see newspaper commenters destroy something beautiful. This actually wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be.
Watch this in full screen, a different kind of Mars landing. Terraform.
Phillip Bump in Grist on how the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics was highly choreographed and still had error, while Curiosity did not.
For all of the tiny, myriad things that could have gone wrong, it didnâ€™t. Curiosity, a roving science station named by a kid from Kansas, was a flawless performance. A moment of triumph for humanity that the Olympics couldnâ€™t possibly match.
Despite the success of the program, the budget might be cut by 40%.
The success comes at a time when the US Mars exploration program is fighting for its life. The Obama administration sent a budget to Capitol Hill earlier this year that would cut funding for the program by 40 percent â€“ a level Scott Hubbard, the first director of the Mars exploration program and former head of NASA’s Ames Research Laboratory, has called a “going out of business” budget.
Discovery.com’s round up is pretty great. Boing Boing has a round up, as does i09 and Slashgear.