Curiosity Has Landed!

Yesterday, at precisely 10:23 pm Greenwich Mean Time, NASA announced the successful landing of the Mars Curiosity Rover! After blazing through Mars’ atmosphere at over 21,000 km/h, Curiosity’s unique landing system deployed and brought the rover in for a nice, controlled landing.

Needless to say, pandemonium ensued at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, where the landing was being monitored. All those on hand began jumping, hooting, hollering and hugging each other, much as they used to do whenever a successful launch was made or men touched down on the moon. Times may have changed, but the basic goal remains the same: to conquer the unknown and take the next big leap. And when that happens, you can expect the people who work so hard to make that happen to get a little giddy 😉

In addition, the HiRISE team (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment), caught this beautiful and perfectly-timed photo from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). The photo shows Curiosity at left deploying its chute and descending to the surface.

Immediately after touching down, Curiosity began sending photos back to NASA of Mars surface. The first two were of its landing zone in Mars’ Gale Crater, shown here:

To mark this momentous occasion, President Obama had this statement to make:

“Tonight, on the planet Mars, the United States of America made history.

The successful landing of Curiosity – the most sophisticated roving laboratory ever to land on another planet – marks an unprecedented feat of technology that will stand as a point of national pride far into the future. It proves that even the longest of odds are no match for our unique blend of ingenuity and determination.

Tonight’s success, delivered by NASA, parallels our major steps forward towards a vision for a new partnership with American companies to send American astronauts into space on American spacecraft. That partnership will save taxpayer dollars while allowing NASA to do what it has always done best – push the very boundaries of human knowledge. And tonight’s success reminds us that our preeminence – not just in space, but here on Earth – depends on continuing to invest wisely in the innovation, technology, and basic research that has always made our economy the envy of the world.

I congratulate and thank all the men and women of NASA who made this remarkable accomplishment a reality – and I eagerly await what Curiosity has yet to discover.”

Yes, this is certainly is history in the making. Needless to say, Curiosity is expected send back some interesting finds as it wanders the Martian surface, takes soil samples, and scans them to determine what secrets and mysteries the surface holds. In time, all this information could become intrinsic to settlement and terraforming, the creation of human civilization on a planet other than Earth! Exciting times we live in!

In the meantime, check out this compilation video of the landing paired with footage take from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab:

Via: Universe Today

Virtual Mars Rover Landing Party!

As you all may know, the Curiosity Rover is on its way to Mars and due to land in just a few days. And it just so happens that my buddy and mentor, Fraser Cain of Universe Today, is hosting a virtual party to mark the event. He and his crew will be in Pasadena for the event, surrounded by NASA officials and people in the know and conducting interviews, while the rest of us will be able to watch through live video.

This is an historic occasion and I for one feel privileged that I know someone who has inside access 😉 Below is a copy of the original invitation inviting people to come by Google+ to join in the party. It promises to be a very informative time so I highly recommend people check it out any way they can. I also included the link to the NASA simulation (the shortened one this time) which shows what the deployment of the Curiosity Rover will look like. Enjoy!

“To celebrate the landing of NASA’s Curiosity Rover – the Mars Science Laboratory – we’ll be running a special live hangout. 

In conjunction with +CosmoQuest. We’ll have all your favorite space/astronomy journalists on hand to discuss the mission in depth, and celebrate the landing live, when it happens.

Over the course of this 4-hour Google+ Hangout on Air, we’ll interview members of the Curiosity team live in the hangout, as well as other special guests from the +The Planetary Society and the +SETI Institute.

+Scott Lewis and +Amy Shira Teitel will be on location at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to interview members of the engineering team, and show you what it’s like to be at NASA during this amazing moment.”