Monday, August 6, 2012

Message To Stella; Also, Mars Rover Curiosity

For my birthday, this year only, to Stella:

Stella is giving me David Deutsch's The Beginning of Infinity, both of us feeling that the library copy should at least occasionally go to someone else.

But there's an arguably even better present in the works: at 12:31AM CDT Aug. 6, Mars Rover Curiosity of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory is scheduled to land, and it's to be broadcast on NASA-TV public channel! If you're reading this at midnight, if you hurry, you might catch the last of the pre-landing commentary.

This is the first use of a new landing technique involving a winch; the rover is the largest, heaviest ever; and the radio delay to Mars at the moment is 14 minutes... so the landing has to be fully automatic, and we won't know for 14 minutes whether the rover is safely on the surface. Succeed or fail (so far, NASA's Mars landing record is 15 successes, 24 failures), could you possibly ask for more suspense?  

ASIDE: Happy Birthday to NTodd as well!

UPDATE: Too cool! Curiosity is on the ground! A few images have come back! Even just as a technological feat, this is impressive. Every one of you who has ever participated in a large technology-based project has some idea how those people in the control room feel. A toast to Curiosity... and to curiosity!

ADDENDUM: Does the Mars Science Laboratory pique your, um, curiosity? Read the wiki!

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