Tuesday, August 07, 2012

How Neat Is This?

At 1:32 AM Eastern Time Sunday, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California erupted in cheers as the Mars Science Lab (a/k/a The Curiosity Rover) reported that it had touched down safely on the surface of the planet Mars. 

It was an amazing feat, made even more amazing by this:

This is a picture taken by the Mars Recon Orbiter's HiRISE camera from its position in Mars orbit, about two hundred miles away from the descending rover.  The upper inset is a closeup of the lander, its protective aeroshell still on, suspended from its parachute; the lower inset shows the heat shield still dropping away.  An action shot, as they say.

Let others talk about the Olympics for a moment.  I say that NASA and the JPL have won the gold medal for the shot put with this, as Curiosity landed safely to start its two year field trip on the planet.

A local radio DJ has decried the $2.5 billion cost of the project, saying that if he were President he would fire and imprison the people responsible for this step across millions of miles.  Just listening to him sent me off on a profanity-laced rant.  I think that if he had his way, your cellular phone would still be the size of carry-on luggage (if such things even existed, for without the space program we wouldn't have had the technological advances we now enjoy).  Well, fuck him.

Sit back, and bask in the SCIENCE!

Oh, and here's a bonus.  The rover was put on the surface by a skycrane system, involving nylon cables and a descent stage powered by rockets.  I didn't know it at the time, but the descent platform carried a camera.  NASA has taken still images from that camera and pieced together a short film that starts with the heat shield falling away and ends with the dust being kicked up by the descent engines.

Again, how neat is that?


Anonymous Austin Wedding Photography said...

Well, it is said that Mars is our second home. It is still on the process if we can live there, if there's really a life on Mars. The only thing that I'm certain is that I'm already dead or may not be able to get there even if there's really life on Mars.

10:26 AM EDT  

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