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Curiosity Lands on Mars!


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The new Mars Rover Curiosity survived the seven minutes of terror and successfully landed in Gale Crater on Mars! Almost immediately, it sent back a photo of one of its wheels on the Martian surface. It was the most complicated landing ever attempted and went perfectly. Let's hope this encourages more interest among the public in space exploration.

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Wow! I was going to stay up and watch it, but fell asleep instead. Considering how many missions have crashed trying to reach Mars, and considering the size of the rover, I think this comes a very close second to walking 0n the Moon.

This video - a NASA animation of the landing - shows what went on. I don't think I'd have invested is such an 'out there' concept, but it's utterly brilliant that it worked.

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Wow! I was going to stay up and watch it, but fell asleep instead. Considering how many missions have crashed trying to reach Mars, and considering the size of the rover, I think this comes a very close second to walking 0n the Moon.

This video - a NASA animation of the landing - shows what went on. I don't think I'd have invested is such an 'out there' concept, but it's utterly brilliant that it worked.

Crash landings?? I don't remember failed landings on Mars in the past. Really??

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This on Mars landing failures from Wikipedia:

Spate of failures

220px-Mars_polar_lander.jpg

magnify-clip.pngConceptual drawing of the Mars Polar Lander on the surface of Mars.

Main article: Mars 96

Main article: Mars Polar Lander

Mars 96, an orbiter launched on November 16, 1996 by Russia failed, when the planned second burn of the Block D-2 fourth stage did not occur.

Following the success of Global Surveyor and Pathfinder, another spate of failures occurred in 1998 and 1999, with the Japanese Nozomi orbiter and NASA's Mars Climate Orbiter, Mars Polar Lander, and Deep Space 2 penetrators all suffering various fatal errors. Mars Climate Orbiter is infamous for Lockheed Martin engineers mixing up the usage of English units with metric units, causing the orbiter to burn up while entering Mars' atmosphere.

There have been many successes, too, some amazing ones where the equipment well exceded expectations.

C

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The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which was already in orbit around Mars and relaying information from Curiosity to Earth during the rover's descent, took this picture of the vehicle as it was descending by parachute a minute before the engine's fired for the final landing procedure. Isn't cool what geeks can do when you give them the chance?

http://photoblog.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/08/06/13146951-mars-orbiter-captures-rover-in-midair?chromedomain=cosmiclog&lite

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This is an amazing accomplishment. The more you understand about what was needed to get that rover down safely, with essentially pinpoint accuracy, from that distance, the more you can't help but be awed and amazed. The engineering expertise, the ingenuity, the understanding of the relative planetary motions to who knows how many decimal places, the careful and absolutely precise teamwork among hundreds or thousands of people from widely different disciplines, is truly awe inspiring.

When I first heard about the planned EDL procedure for this lander I laughed. I thought it was crazy. Then, when I realized it was serious, and started to understand the technical issues that led to each of the decisions made that resulted in that particular complex dance of a landing, I worried. Uh-oh, I thought, this is surely going to be yet another of the many failed expensive missions, leading to yet more hand-wringing by short-sighted and history-of-technology bereft government and public wondering why money should be spent on such things.

Then it actually worked. I cheered almost as loud as those in the control room. I couldn't believe it actually worked.

I love it that we can do such things. I love it that a proto-civilized, warfaring, screeching, jealous, selfish, emotional, hedonistic, self-destructive bunch of primates can prove, once again, that maybe, just maybe, we're a bit more than all that after all. Just look at what we can do! It instills hope. Proof that despite our barbarism, and our flaws, that there's something more. Something that separates us. Will it be enough? Looking at accomplishments like this it's easy to believe that it will be.

Congratulations to all involved. The party is just beginning, and the wonders we are about to learn...

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