Monday, August 6, 2012

"GALE CRATER I AM IN YOU!!!" and other highlights from the successful Curiosity rover landing

This is what my desktop looked like during the Mars Science Laboratory 'Curiosity' rover landing. I had NASA live on Ustream, a live simulated visualization from NASA's Eyes on the Solar System, a live G+ hangout hosted by, and of course Twitter.

"Pale blue dot" image looking over MSL's shoulder
The Eyes on the Solar System simulation was amazing, and I was impressed that everything in the visualization was to scale - the relative speeds, sizes, and distances between objects were all accurate. This visualization really reminded me that the solar system is mostly empty space, and that objects that we consider pretty significant (like entire planets) are just little specks orbiting a larger speck.

"NASA mohawk guy" was also an interesting addition to the live coverage. Not only is Bobak Ferdowsi young, edgy, and super smart - he's also mildly famous after becoming an internet sensation during the live feed. 

In the end, the successful landing was obviously the highlight of the night. The first image back was a 64x64 pixel thumbnail from a rear ground camera - something that could be transmitted quickly and could prove that the rover was working and on solid ground. The next images were larger but still low res until the 'real' cameras can be fired up. 

One of my favorite parts of the night (I loled) was the very first tweet sent out by @MarsCuriosity after landing. It was retweeted nearly 50,000 times in under an hour! Not exactly 'one small step' but equally memorable and also hilarious:


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