Curiosity Has Landed, the 2m24s definitive edit from NASA Television:
Get a behind the scenes look a the tension, anticipation and exhilaration experienced by scientists and engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. during the Curiosity rover’s harrowing descent through the Martian atmosphere — known as “Seven Minutes of Terror.” News of Curiosity’s safe touchdown following the 13-thousand-to-zero-mile-an-hour descent to the Red Planet’s surface brought elation and high-fives all around. Curiosity begins a two-year investigation of whether Mars is or ever was capable of supporting microbial life.
As of this post, Mars Curiosity is on her own, speeding quickly toward the planet’s surface and quickly toward its fate or future. From NPR:
Of 13 previous attempts to land space probes on the Red Planet over the past four decades, nearly half failed or immediately lost contact.
Those odds are enough to make tonight’s scheduled landing of NASA’s new rover, Curiosity, a tense, hold-your-breath moment. But the space agency’s plan to use a hovering, rocket-powered “sky crane” to lower the $2.5 billion, nuclear-powered robot 60 feet or so to the Martian surface almost guarantees it will be a suspenseful night at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
Just to complicate things, the rover’s rapid-fire descent and landing is entirely automated. With more than 150 million miles separating Earth and Mars, round-trip communications between Curiosity and its far-off human overseers would take nearly half an hour.
"Curiosity is on its own through all this," says NPR science correspondent Joe Palca, who is monitoring the Mars mission in Pasadena. "Earth is too far away help if things go wrong."
The communications lag is also why we won’t know whether the rover has successfully landed until 1:31 a.m. ET on Monday, even though landfall is actually scheduled for 14 minutes earlier, at 1:17 a.m. ET.
If you haven’t yet, watch the Seven Minutes of Terror video. But then know that, according to Curiosity herself, we may not know her status until much later than that! Phoning Home: Communicating from Mars.
For up to the minute updates, watch NASA TV live! bit.ly/MarsLive
With topography data from NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft, this 30 second video of Mars shows all six NASA spacecraft to reach the Red Planet: Viking 1, Viking 2, Pathfinder, Spirit, Opportunity, Phoenix.
Toward the end of the video, you can also see Gale Crater, where Curiosity is aiming to touch down on Aug 5 at 10:31pm PST, Aug 6 at 1:31am EST, Aug 6 at 5:31am Universal. (Watch it live on NASA TV.)
For more details, check out this infographic from Space.com:
(It’s a bit bigger if you click!)
“There it is. Our moon. Our one and only.”
A tour of the moon, based on data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. — Simple and beautiful. I wish there was a video tour like this for every planet, dwarf planet, moon and pretty much anything else in space that we have data on. Watch it full screen.