Sunday, August 5, 2012

THE CRUCIBLE: In just a few hours the Mars Curiosity rover is scheduled to touch down in Gale crater. Here is a link to a collection of related resources, including the NASAtv feed, which has carried panels and explainer videos today concerning the mission. (I also tried the EU space agency feed, but found frequent interruptions and ear-splitting bursts of static.) If you haven't heard the entry and descent strategy for landing this mission, with a payload 10x heavier than than the prior rovers, you should really check it out. NASA has a short informative video narrated by (a surprisingly fuzzy) William Wheaton. (Theory here is that budget constraints prevented consideration of Nathan Fillion.) What could go wrong? Everything. But it all sounds so crazy that I can't help thinking it will work.


  1. Joseph J. Finn7:29 PM


    My intitial reaction to this post is to want to SQUEEEEEEEEEE as loudly as possible.  Because, c'mon, this is awesome.


    God, I have such a wonderful apprehension and hope for this mission.  I want it to succeed like crazy, I want us to push the limits, I want us to try such great and terrible things.  But wow, there is so much that can go wrong....

    But will I be there at 1:30 AM*? Yes.

    *Seriously, what is it with visiting in-laws on the East Coast and everything goes nutty time-wise?  What kind of civilzation starts football and baseball at 2 PM?

  2. ...and if you really need to geek out (I really need to geek out), here's the Planetfest2012 feed:

  3. And this toy is awesome.$SERVERURL/content/documents/msl/edl.xml

  4. Slowlylu1:18 AM

    This is so cool. I am watching it live during my work day - the Guardian also has a really cool live blog

  5. Joseph J. Finn1:50 AM


    (And I apologize to anyoe who follows me on Twitter, since I was...a mite bit overexcited tonight.  But science, damnit.)

  6. Slowlylu2:19 AM

    If you can't get excited about something like this when can you get excited? 

  7. The Pathetic Earthling3:16 AM

    I'm giving that an 18.000 with no deductions.

  8. Anytime a room full of 30+ twenty-something through sixty-something aerospace engineers are whooping and weeping, I can too.  That was totally worth the lost sleep.

  9. Genevieve11:48 AM

    Could someone explain for a complete newbie how this differs from other Mars Rover expeditions?  I know everyone is very excited about it and therefore it must be a big advance over what was done previously, but I don't know what the distinction is other than that this Rover is 10x heavier (which clearly must be far more difficult).  This is no way meant to be dismissive, just expressing that I would like the non-scientist explanation of why this is huge.  Because clearly it is, and I am psyched for my friends who are so excited.

  10. Joseph Finn12:31 PM

    Genevieve, this video has a good explanation as to why this landing was so much more nerve-inducing than previous ones.

  11. Genevieve4:32 PM

    Thanks, JJF!  I'll watch that when I get home.