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Subject: NASA's next Mars Rover Curiosity lands tonight! rss

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Mark Johnson
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For the last eight years we've been working on the next generation Mars rover, which is going to land on the planet at 10:30pm Sunday night in California, where we designed & built it at JPL (5:30 UTC on Monday). There's a lot riding on a very complicated robotic landing sequence, and we're excited to have so much attention and goodwill tonight.

Go Curiosity!

The "Seven Minutes of Terror" video about the landing sequence


Longer animation about the entire mission, with detail on the surface science mission
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David Kahnt
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It's fun, it's healthy, it's good exercise. The kids will just love it. And we put a little sand inside to make the experience more pleasant.
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MarkEJohnson wrote:
For the last eight years we've been working on the next generation Mars rover, ....



WE???

YOU???

...awesome...

-DK
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Ken Shogren
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GO CURIOSITY! Good wishes and hopes in solid robust engineering. This is very exciting.

Edit #1: And I have to agree. The complexity of this operation is incredible. Any true fan of engineering cannot help but be impressed by it.

Edit #2: Does anyone know how this stuff was tested? Was the chute tested in earth-atmosphere? Special wind tunnel? How about the skycrane?
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Jim Cote
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We should start a room in BGG chat to watch the events together.
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Boaty McBoatface
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It will conclusivly prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that life might have existed on Mars.
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Mark Johnson
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The parachute was tested in earth atmosphere. Even though we don't have Martian atmosphere at our disposal, we can design tests that match the inflation dynamics, bridle line tension, and so on.

The skycrane had tests for its many components (thrusters, computer systems), but not all together. Of course, everything undergoes EXTENSIVE computer modeling and analysis for all sorts of off-nominal conditions.

One of the most exiting tests was the descent of the rover on those bridles & umbilical cable underneath the suspended skycrane "descent stage". This included deployment of the rover's wheels, and setting down on different slopes, rock distributions, and velocities. (Here again, though we don't have Mars gravity here on Earth, we can adjust weights within our tests to match deployment velocities, energies, or whatever is being tested & modeled.)
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Mark Johnson
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slatersteven wrote:
It will conclusivly prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that life might have existed on Mars.


I appreciate the wishful thinking, but the engineer in me can't make such an absolute statement! It is true that Curiosity carries with it an unparalleled mobile science suite.
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slatersteven wrote:
It will conclusivly prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that life might have existed on Mars.


conclusively...
prove...
beyond any shadow of a doubt...

...might have?

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Jim Cote
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Is it looking for life only as we know it (eg organic chemistry, DNA, etc)? Or is there the possibility of it being able to detect unexpected forms of life? In the former case, the idea of Earth and Mars sharing a common abiogenesis would surely be the hot topic. In the latter case, we have the much more interesting case of life originating separately on two adjacent planets. That would ramp up the Drake Equation a bit.
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Key Locks
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hskrfn822 wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
It will conclusivly prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that life might have existed on Mars.


conclusively...
prove...
beyond any shadow of a doubt...

...might have?


Sense...
of...
humor...
not...
detected...
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Mark Johnson
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I don't know the exact details, Jim, but this is more about organic chemistry. Organic contamination controls were a major pain in the butt for the machine design engineers. As I understand it, we don't have the technology to miniaturize (both mass & power) a DNA sequencer or other true life-detection instruments like we have on labs on Earth. That's why people still want to have a Mars sample return mission someday.
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J.L. Robert
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NASA's live coverage can be viewed online at:

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/nasatv/

Or you can watch it on DirecTV. Channel 346.
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JessA
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This twitter feed is offering great updates, too.

http://twitter.com/spaceflightnow/
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David Fisher
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Just landed successfully! Cool.
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Mars horizon with Curiosity's wheel on lower right.

and another screenshot with two camera perspectives.

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Jim Cote
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Congrats to NASA!
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Bojan Benak
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It's a wheel!!!!!!!!!

I can't describe how I felt when they said it landed and they started to cheer. Great feeling. I'm watching (well more listening ) news conference now. My parents had Moon - we have Mars. I feel like I personaly landed there. Can't help but feel happy for all people of Earth.
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David Fisher
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Here are some of Curiosity's comments on Twitter leading up to the landing ...

(from https://twitter.com/MarsCuriosity)

Cruise stage separation complete. So long & thanks for all the navigation. 17 minutes to Mars!

I feel lighter & faster already. Cruise balance masses ejected and Mars is pulling me in

Entering Mars' atmosphere. 7. Minutes. Of. Terror. Starts. NOW.

Guided entry is begun. Here I go!

Parachute deployed! Velocity 900 mph. Altitude 7 miles. 4 minutes to Mars!

Heatshield separation. Next up: Radar must lock on ground

Backshell separation. It's just you & me now, descent stage. Engage all retrorockets!

I'm safely on the surface of Mars. GALE CRATER I AM IN YOU!!!

You asked for pics from my trip. Here you go! My 1st look (of many to come) of my new home... MARS! pic.twitter.com/894ouNJt

---

(Makes me wonder what the tweets would have looked like if something went wrong: "uh oh, that doesn't sound right" ... "Mayday! Mayday! Coming in too fast!")

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Mark Johnson
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Hurray! Curiosity landed safely!!

(As one of my friends said, "That was a lot harder than we made it look.")

Of course there's still a lot of careful checkout to go on the rover before it starts driving around and sampling rocks. But we're there, baby!
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Ken Shogren
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MarkEJohnson wrote:
Hurray! Curiosity landed safely!!

(As one of my friends said, "That was a lot harder than we made it look.")

Of course there's still a lot of careful checkout to go on the rover before it starts driving around and sampling rocks. But we're there, baby!


Among all of the tumbling, diving, acrobatic landings that have occurred in the last week...

...this one is the only one to score a perfect 10!

Kudos to JPL's EDL team.

Definitely looking forward to the 8fps video of that landing.
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Green Dan
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I signed up for the Your name on mars thing they did for this. So my name, along with about a million others, is on mars!

Hopefully, when the invaders find out it will become the save list, not the kill list.
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J.L. Robert
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PinkPiggy wrote:
J.L.Robert wrote:
NASA's live coverage can be viewed online at:

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/nasatv/

Or you can watch it on DirecTV. Channel 346.


Here is the link to the clean feed (no commentary):

http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2


I found the commentary insightful. Unlike professional broadcasting, it lacked pretense, and was helpful to people who, like myself, aren't experts on the program.
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Scott B
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hskrfn822 wrote:


Mars horizon with Curiosity's wheel on lower right.

and another screenshot with two camera perspectives.


Now, I can't help but think, if they had hired me to work on their optics, I would've kept that wheel OUT of frame... sheesh.

...

For the record, I'm kidding, and I suspect, though I don't know, that the wheel is in the frame either deliberately, or the trade off to get it out of frame was simply not worth it. And I LOVE it!
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Stuart
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I'm paying for staying up til 3AM to watch, but it was well worth it. I got a bit worried when they said it was doing 50m/s and was only 500m up, but thankfully Curiosity nailed the landing!
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Mindy G
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gamesterinns wrote:
I'm paying for staying up til 3AM to watch,

Then you need this: http://xkcd.com/1091/
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