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
: 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.