Curiosity landed on Mars just a few minutes ago. I’m glad I stayed up to watch. I snagged a few photos of the celebration in the control room - hilarious and awesome to see everyone jump for joy. I’ve never seen so many people scream and hug each other after someone yelled “WE GOT THUMBNAILS!” Here’s a few of the screen grabs I liked the best.

Just to give everyone a clear picture of what these scientists accomplished, consider the following:

  • NASA launched and guided the craft 200 million miles to land on a specific Martian crater - the equivalent of teeing off in London and hitting a hole in one in Aukland, New Zealand.
  • The golf ball mention in the scenario above? Well, in this case it’s a spacecraft that weighs over 1 ton and cost $2.5 Billion.
  • Once the parachute deploys, Curiosity slowed from around 13,000 mph to 0 in just over 7 minutes
  • To hit a precise spot on the targeted crater, the craft uses the sky crane pictured above after the parachute has done it’s job.
  • The rover itself is about the size of a Mini Cooper and contains (among other things), arms, a radiation meter, a rock-blasting laser, a chemical nose, and mid-range and telephoto lenses.
  • To read more, check out this article from Mercury News

via NASA Ustream