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Mars NASA Space News

Curiosity Lands On Mars 411

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 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 Anonymous Coward on Monday August 06, 2012 @12:52AM (#40891521)

    Richard C. Hoagland will be on describing the Martian civilization that NASA is hiding from us.

  • Streaming video (Score:5, Informative)

    by adolf ( 21054 ) <> on Monday August 06, 2012 @01:00AM (#40891543) Journal

    The best-quality streaming video of the event from JPL that I've found is over at Ustream [].


    • FYI - The NASA stream and the Ustream are from two different cameras with two different commentators
      I also think the NASA stream had a slight time delay

      • Re:Streaming video (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:02AM (#40891845) Journal

        Speaking of commentators, is anyone else annoyed at the NASA commentator?

        They were giving the location of the landing and she cut in blabbing about something in the middle of them saying how far off their initial expected landing point was. I think they were saying it was just a couple meters which is outstanding considering the distance involved and the ability or chances to stray slightly in the process.

        I mean I'm watching the NASA feed in order to hear all the details. If I cared about someone's comments, I would wait until some news agency did a write up on it. They should have shut the hell up while they were reading the results of the different stages off.

        • Same feeling (Score:5, Insightful)

          by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:04AM (#40891863)

          I was just thinking how awesome it was watching NASA TV compared to NBC Olympic footage, and then she goes and pulls a Costas, pulling away just as they were reading out some cool technical details.

          REALLY annoying. If I'm watching NASA TV let me in on all the technical details possible please!

        • Re:Streaming video (Score:4, Insightful)

          by kmahan ( 80459 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:08AM (#40891885)

          A video stream of just showing the main room and the audio from it would have been great. Having her cut in during the interesting parts was seriously annoying. They should have had two streams.

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

    Check out []

    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."


    "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!"

  • FFS... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @01:12AM (#40891615)

    It's scheduled to land at 1:31 AM EST


  • It is - the question remains whether intact or not. We're just waiting for the radio signals to arrive.

    Speed of light can be soo damn slow ...

    • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @01:32AM (#40891681)
      > It is - the question remains whether intact or not. We're just waiting for the radio signals to arrive.

      "Relative to whose frame of reference, blueworlder []?"

      The Council of Elders has confirmed the interception and destruction of the latest mechanized terror from the blue world.

      K'Breel, Speaker for the Council of Elders, addressed the planet thus:

      Citizens, it is with great joy that I announce to you the destruction of the invader from the blue world!

      The blueworlders' latest robotic instrument of terror was powered by a Pew-238 nucleowarming device which was equipped with a point defense mechanism consisting of a light source so powerful that it could blast away the very red soil upon which we thrive.

      Yet at the last moment, when all seemed lost, our forces fired upon the thin umbilical cord connecting the flying invader with its power source and associated optical weapons system. Its connection to its power source severed, the invading vessel flew off in a dizzying spiral and crashed spectacularly into a nearby hillside.

      Rejoice, podmates! Our red world is once again safe!

      When a junior combat reporter pointed out that the link between the carrier vessel and the mechanized invader may have been designed to be broken at the moment of landing, that the actual threat was the so-called "power source" and not the flying invader, and suggested that if the Martian Defense Force had just waited just a few seconds longer, the squibs holding the skyhook to the skycrane might have failed, resulting in the carrier vessel crashing down upon the invader, thereby destroying both, K'Breel had the combat reporter's gelsacs placed directly in front of the dormant invader's photonic weapons.

      "If the blue-shirted denizens of the blue world seek evidence of organic matter so strongly," mused K'Breel, "then let them have their fill of it!"

      (Because the Council must to draft at least two of these press releases with every new phase of the battle, the Speaker would like to thank the infiltrators at the Martian Cyberdefense Detachment (unit for remaining as glued to the screen over the past fifteen units of time as everybeing on the Council was.)

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

      • by ThreeKelvin ( 2024342 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:19AM (#40891957)
        Since I'm from Europe I'd like to add: Kudos to the people of the US for funding it!
        • by Krishnoid ( 984597 ) * on Monday August 06, 2012 @03:37AM (#40892381) Journal

          Kudos to the people of the US for funding it!

          While we're exchanging acknowledgements, my heartfelt gratitude goes to the EU for their efforts in compelling the world to standardize on micro-USB for cell phone power and data.

          Offtopic, I know, but very much appreciated :-)

        • 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.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            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 t
        • by quenda ( 644621 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @06:16AM (#40892975)

          Since I'm from Europe I'd like to add: Kudos to the people of the US for funding it!

          And a special thanks for sticking with the metric system this time.

  • Great writeup with the links.

    Let's go, Curiosity! You the Rover! :-)

  • TOUCHDOWN (Score:5, Informative)

    by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @01:32AM (#40891685) Journal
    Curiosity is ON THE SURFACE.
  • Touchdown! All went well! \o/
  • Waiting...

  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom ( 2244874 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @01:39AM (#40891725)
    Well nice knowing you guys. Life as we know it ends once that clears around Mars.

    Congradulation NASA! I hope they increase your funding and reduce funding for wars.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ScentCone ( 795499 )

      Congradulation NASA! I hope they increase your funding and reduce funding for wars.

      Actually, I don't mind that we fund efforts - including military ones, if needed - to combat and push back against the most violent and dangerous aspects of a culture that would stone to death the women you saw working at JPL's flight control center tonight. You know, because Allah hates them for having learned how to read and show their hair, among other death-worthy sins.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        But that isn't what has happened, is it? Iraq was a secular society under Saddam, and is now more Islamic than it was before 2003 and womens rights are under threat. Meanwhile Afghanistan is set to fall to the Taliban as soon as the US and allies leave.

        If the US wants to improve the lot of women then it should fund women's education and birth control in these countries, not bomb them to shit.

  • Gold Medal (Score:5, Funny)

    by rsmith-mac ( 639075 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @01:42AM (#40891739)

    And the gold medal for the all-species 350M KM space landing goes to NASA, who scored a perfect 10 for landing on the surface of Mars!

    Congratulations to NASA and the JPL. Dare Mighty Things indeed.

  • Fucking amazing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @01:43AM (#40891751)
    I'm absolutely amazed that doing something like this is even possible. All of the people who put this together are heroes to me. Fuck yes. This is awesome.
  • suck had to watch CNN to get the landing. How sad no other station on regular cable carried the landing.

    • Kudos to Xbox live. They had a special event app to stream the event live. All the drama. Computer sims based on live telemetry. All in HD on the big screen. Pretty sweet.

  • This claims to be a landing pic, but it hasn't landed yet. WTF? []

  • Wow. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by adolf ( 21054 ) <> 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 (, 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....

  • Excellent! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 06, 2012 @01:54AM (#40891801)

    Wow, I feel like I haven't felt in a long time. I feel proud to be an American.

    Kudos to NASA, and a big "fuck you" to Congress for cutting their funding.

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @01:54AM (#40891803)

    With any luck, these excellent news from the science world will push back the barrage of useless "events" from the olympics marketing machine.

  • by SlashDev ( 627697 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @01:56AM (#40891813) Homepage
    I was watching the broadcast live, very exciting indeed. The description of the events sounded like it was real-time when in fact there is a delay, however they react and comment based on the transmission they received, I did head something curious "we would steer Curiosity if ..." which is impossible, they can't steer, curiosity steers itself mainly because of the delay.
  • by ikarys ( 865465 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @01:58AM (#40891831)

    The first encounter with alien life has not gone well. A catlike alien has been squashed and killed by Curiosity.

  • Woot (Score:5, Funny)

    by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:02AM (#40891851)

    Sky crane for the win. I had images in my head of hovering Eagles from Space 1999. :-)

  • by thisisauniqueid ( 825395 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:09AM (#40891891)
    We are not alone []
  • by jamesh ( 87723 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:53AM (#40892159)

    Message from Curiosity: Landed safely. Initiating primary directive - kill cats.

  • by slacka ( 713188 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:54AM (#40892165)

    “We tend to hear much more about the splendors returned than the ships that brought them or the shipwrights. It has always been that way. Even those history books enamored of the voyages of Christopher Columbus do not tell much about the builders of the Nina the Pinta and the Santa Maria or about the principle of the caravel. These spacecraft their designers builders navigators and controllers are examples of what science and engineering set free for well-defined peaceful purposes can accomplish. Those scientists and engineers should be role models for an America seeking excellence and international competitiveness. They should be on our stamps.”
      Carl Sagan,

    Congratulations NASA and JPL! I hope you continue to inspire us all to dare mighty things!

"Nuclear war can ruin your whole compile." -- Karl Lehenbauer