Last night (or early this morning, depending on where you live), NASA scientists and engineers successfully landed the Curiosity rover on Mars 350 million miles from Earth at a speed of 13,000 MPH, and landed it perfectly using a jet-fired hover crane, which lowered a nuclear-powered 1 ton robot onto the surface of Mars.
NASA streamed the entire thing on its NASA TV website for the world to see and share in the excitement of this unique and monumental achievement, including the incredible anxious descent of the Rover as it made it’s way to the surface of Mars using pre-set timed commands to initiate each stage. We also got to watch the JPL Control Room literally jump for joy, high five each other, and hug one another in tears of joy!
The twitter world was a buzz with excited science and technology nerds around the world, but they weren’t the only ones amazed and engrossed by what some are saying is the equivalent of a modern-day moon landing.
The @marscuriosity rover (official twitter account) had this to say:
“It once was one small step… now it’s six big wheels. Here’s a look at one of them on the soil of Mars #MSL pic.twitter.com/uzO99NZz
Here are some other tweets from people expressing their thoughts (#MSL is the hashtag for people talking about the event so others can see it’s about this event):
Aaron Muszalski @sfslim
“After spending the night in a house full of nerds spectating the #marscuriosity landing, it hits me: is this what sportsball fans feel like?”
RT @jgoldbeck: “Today a man with no legs ran in the Olympics and a robot from Earth landed on Mars. Holy freaking hell – science is awesome!”
“That rocked! Seriously! Was that cool?” — Deputy MSL Project Manager Richard Cook #MSL
Adam Steltzner @steltzner
“It has been the greatest honor of my life to have worked with the brilliant team who made this perfect landing possible.” #EDL #MSL
This was the scene in Times Square (thanks to @bluemilker on Twitter) as people watched every gripping moment on one of the big screen. This wasn’t just an event for nerds.
We all feel the inherent need the explore and discover, be it on Earth, or somewhere like Mars. To explore the unknown can be scary, but most people want to know the age-old answer to the question ‘are we alone?’.
Curiosity will spend it’s days testing and analyzing the martian surface, which might not sound exciting to some people, but it’s findings may garner the attention of the world, and deservingly so. As demonstrated in this Space.com video, it will collect samples, super heat them into gases, and analyze every molecule for signs of microbial life.
Since we at Nerds On Site are fascinated with the technology, along with others around the world, it’s impossible to ignore the tech that made this possible! NASA won’t share everything (but they share alot!), but the fact that they strategically sent a Mars Rover over 350 million miles in 8 months, keeping in mind that both the Earth and Mars orbit the sun and rotate on their own axis, and were able to calculate exactly when and where to land the Rover, and nailed it (given the 14 minute time delay for data), no one can deny it was an incredible and historic feat!
Devices like the iPad and iPhone (and Android!) allow people to feel even more engaged! Revision3 shows off some of the apps you can play with, including the Mars Curiosity app, we can keep up to date on current rover news, see photos, and learn about the mission. Using the Spacecraft 3D app, once a 3D image is printed using a normal household printer, you can use the app to navigate every inch of Curiosity. How cool is that?!
All in all, definitely worth staying up for, but even if you couldn’t, you can relive the experience with the links above, search the #MSL hashtag on Twitter, watch the TWiT Live Special, visit the YouTube NASA Channel, or simply do a Google search and watch the hours fly by as you learn about the Curiosity Mars rover!