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Mars NASA Space News

Curiosity Lands On Mars 411

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-luck dept.
The Mars Science Laboratory, a.k.a. Curiosity, is now less than an hour from touchdown on Mars. It's scheduled to land at 1:31 AM EDT (0531 UTC). The landing will be monitored by the Odyssey orbiter, which will be the data relay between Curiosity and Earth. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will be listening to Curiosity as well (yes — two of our probes orbiting another world will be watching a third). While Odyssey will be giving us close to real-time updates (as close as possible, given the 14-minute time delay), MRO's data will take a bit longer to be processed and evaluated. NASA is broadcasting from the JPL mission room right now. If you'd like to watch a pretty awesome graphical visualization of the mission, check out eyes.nasa.gov. If you'd like to play around with a Java app showing Mars-local times and seasons, check out Mars24. If you'd like to watch unofficial coverage, Bad Astronomer Phil Plait and a bunch of other astronomers are hosting a public Google Hangout. If you'd like to read a detailed explanation of the landing, checkout NASA's press kit (PDF), and there's also a post about what to expect when the rover starts sending pictures back to Earth, which will be about two hours after the rover lands. Good luck to everyone involved! We'll update this post when we get word on the landing.
Update: 08/06 05:33 GMT by S : Curiosity is on the ground! Everything looks nominal, and everybody at JPL is cheering. Congratulations, folks. They're continuing to receive telemetry from Odyssey, and the connection is strong. They've now received the first images back from Mars of Curiosity on the ground. A press briefing is scheduled in a little bit (2:15AM EDT, 0615 UTC), and several more throughout the day as more data comes back.
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Curiosity Lands On Mars

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  • by bkk_diesel (812298) on Monday August 06, 2012 @01:03AM (#40891557)

    Check out http://eyes.nasa.gov/ [nasa.gov]

    From the page:
    ""Eyes on the Solar System" is a 3-D environment full of real NASA mission data. Explore the cosmos from your computer. Hop on an asteroid. Fly with NASA's Voyager spacecraft. See the entire solar system moving in real time. It's up to you. You control space and time."

    and

    "Eyes on the Solar System lets you ride with Curiosity all the way to the surface of Gale crater. Preview the events of Entry Descent and Landing, or watch live!"

  • Wow. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Monday August 06, 2012 @01:51AM (#40891787) Journal

    Huge thanks to NASA/JPL for pulling this thing off, and letting everyone be a part of it.

    I was watching a live simulation of the thing full-screen on one monitor (eyes.nasa.gov), and watching/hearing commentary on Nasa TV on another. It was very thrilling.

    As a geek, foremost I find myself going WOW> HOLY !!! WE JUST LANDED A WINNEBEGO [ok, it's a bit smaller than the average Winny] ON MARS!!!

    But I also find myself impressed that the Ustream link I posted (above) had something like 230k viewers at peak, and despite the load it never missed a beat for me. The simulation appeared to be happening in with very low-latency, and provided spectacular imagery.

    Politically, if these methods of passive involvement were more widely publicized, funding the space program would be a no-brainer for any American -- just for the excitement involved, if nothing else, of accomplishing such a difficult task.

    Wish I could link to the first photos (there seem to be two of them), but they don't seem to be officially posted just yet....

  • by flyingsquid (813711) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:17AM (#40891929)

    Kudos to the folks at NASA and JPL for a job well done. Hopefully we'll get some great science out of it.

    All of this just shows what a huge mistake was made in cutting the budget for planetary science and future Mars missions. Tonight, NASA did everything that they are supposed to do. They pushed us further out into the solar system, giving us the most detailed view yet of another world. They pushed scientific boundaries, sending an entire laboratory to another planet to look for extraterrestrial life. They pushed the limits of engineering. And they showed the world what we look like at our best- an America that is innovative, pioneering, and willing to take risks.

    Times are tough, but of all the things to cut from the budget, why cut planetary missions? The cuts mean that we don't have anything in the works; we've got Curiosity but we have no plans to follow up. I find myself deeply disappointed that the White House would do something so short-sighted. The thing is, what happened tonight was genuinely inspiring. I felt truly proud of what my country had done. And I tried to remember the last time I had felt like that, and then it hit me. It was when Obama was elected.

    There's more than a little irony to that.

  • Re:Streaming video (Score:2, Interesting)

    by harley78 (746436) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:35AM (#40892053)
    Also, did you hear Obama's appointed science dude say no other country has landed on another planet?...all credibility lost. (Not a political post! I just wish he would have been pedantic).
  • Re:Streaming video (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mbone (558574) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:39AM (#40892071)

    I also heard that, and it did sound like they were talking about a few meters offset but, note

    - the landing was out of sight of Earth, so there was no direct Earth tracking of the landing.
    - Mars Odyssey orbiter has at best a very bad Doppler tracking system, which I don't think they were even using, and
    - the internal inertial guidance system is not going to be good at the meter level.

    So, I would really doubt that they currently know the landing accuracy to anything like the meter level. It will take a few days to really determine where the rover is, and thus the true error. (The last I heard, they do not plan ANY range / doppler tracking from Earth, which I regard as a mistake, but it's best not to get me started on that.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:56AM (#40892173)

    Well, yeah. That's what unix nerds tend to use for their mobile devices. Apple laptops are easily the most popular laptops I've ever seen among us engineering types at Sun and Oracle in the last decade.

  • Re:Wow. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by icebike (68054) * on Monday August 06, 2012 @03:51AM (#40892435)

    Not true.

    In fact NASA was amazed just how much continued interest there was in the Spirit and Opportunity rovers over the years.
    The hits on the web site [nasa.gov] show a huge spike every time one of these
    rovers bump into an interesting rock, even if the mainstream media can't be bothered to mention it.

    Nobody expects constant 24 7 news coverage of the slow journey of a rover across a barren plane. Nor do we watch
    sports super stars driving to the stadium.

    This idea that there has to be 24/7 engagement of drop-jawed rapture to indicate
    a high level of public interest seems to be trotted out ONLY for Space explorations.

    Virtually no other endeavor on earth is judged by this standard.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday August 06, 2012 @05:15AM (#40892777) Journal

    Kudos to the people of US who have founded it one way or another. And certainly kudos to NASA folk who took that money and made it work.

    Overall picture is not so nice, however. Here are some costs for comparison:

    MSL Project (which yielded Curiosity): $2.5 billion
    London Olympics 2012: $14.5 billion (public expenses for venues, security etc only, doesn't include the cost of the events themselves - that's paid by private sponsors)
    A single month of war in Afghanistan (as of 2011): $6.7 billion
    Total cost of the war to date: $470 billion !!!

    Yup, the US alone could land two rovers per month if it stopped chasing mujis and camels in Afghanistan! But, hey, at least they land something? EU is, on the paper at least, a bigger economy. Think about what US and EU could accomplish together if they stopped squandering money on stupid things.

  • by rocket rancher (447670) <themovingfinger@gmail.com> on Monday August 06, 2012 @08:00AM (#40893347)
    Well, war is an ugly thing. But not the ugliest of things. The degraded state of moral decay wherein nothing seems worth war is far worse (with apologies to John Stuart Mill.) Tell me, what do you think drove the technological advancements that got Curiosity to Mars? Here's a hint: It was an ugly thing -- war. Humans are an aggressive species -- we didn't make it to the top of the food chain on this planet by being pacifists. Instead of lamenting the cost of war, we should be celebrating the fact that as aggressive as we are (and always will be as long as we remain human!) we can still channel some of that aggression constructively.

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