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back to article Success! Curiosity Mars lander arrives precisely on schedule

NASA's Curiosity Mars lander settled down on the Red Planet as scheduled, no problems, thank you ma'am, nothing to worry about ... oh, what is it? a quarter of a billion miles from here or so? Nice job, mates. A news conference is being held as we post this note, but we thought you might enjoy a few images from the live feed …

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!

Fucking result!

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Happy

Saw it live from NASA

I subverted the digital signage in the Lobby to show the NASA feed instead of adverts so everyone in the building could watch.

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Pint

It was quite interesting to watch the people from various teams taking turns being excited with anticipation, then highly stressed and joyously relaxed again as their part of the entry/landing came and went.

The 'hippy guy' and the 'mohawk guy' two seats up from him were noted by several people, but as I said, 'if you are smart enough to work at JPL, you can do your hair any way you damn well like!"

My manager was surprised that the movie representations of the 'NASA' room were more accurate than she had ever expected.

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Compare the NASA rooms to that at SpaceX. SpaceX just have bench tables with LCD screens on them. NASA has spent (or wasted) lots of money to make theirs very fancy.

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Re: Saw it live from NASA

I watched it on the NASA website with my 7year old on my lap explaining to him about how Mars is so very far away and how so many attempts at landing there have gone wrong.

He then went upstairs to 'tell mum about space' which probably went down well :-)

ttfn

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Old hippies and punk rockers -- ON MAAARRRS!

...The 'hippy guy' and the 'mohawk guy' two seats up from him were noted by several people, but as I said, 'if you are smart enough to work at JPL, you can do your hair any way you damn well like!"

I always liked watching JPL Mission Control during the Pathfinder, MER and now the Curiosity landings, for the huge differences in appearance and "culture" between JPL Mission Control and the MSFC Mission Control in Houston. The guys in the "big room" in Houston are all clean-cut, straight-arrow-looking engineering types, and the JPL guys look like a bunch of old hippies.

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Go

This is why I follow El Reg

#1 Before my local (Holland) news media picks up online.

#2 Really putting your alias into glory: cynical and critical where it counts.

No; even if all of that turns out to be untrue ('a billion miles after the intended place'?) (as I read it) it still doesn't matter to me because in all honesty your site description leaves little to guess. I /know/ before even reading the article you'll question whatever comes before you. Most often you're right, sometimes you're not, and sometimes you're tricked.

No one can accuse you guys for never trying. Lets not forget: "Sometimes you're not" can also easily occur due to the source changing its story (seriously meant, it honestly it happens sometimes BUT.. in "El Reg style": How is THAT for a fanboy comment?!).

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But ... are we mobile?

Fingers crossed ... \xII

Beer. Because.

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Yipee!

Bloody good show! Drinks all round.

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Funniest bit was the random guy at NASA who yelled 'holy shit' at touchdown before suddenly realising he was on camera and they hastily muted the feed.

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MrT
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Haven't seen the footage yet...

... but I bet that bit gets edited out. I'm glad to see the skycrane idea worked - and am clearly not the only one!

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Re: Haven't seen the footage yet...

I'm glad to see the skycrane idea worked - and am clearly not the only one!

I saw the BBC Horizon program last week about the mission and the sky-crane landing system. Flipping amazing stuff.

If only we could have had a video feed of that decent and landing. That would have been one awesome sight.

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And if we're going to talk about silly things, then did anyone notice Fuk Li at the back?

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Happy

Re: Haven't seen the footage yet...

Of course all Reg Readers saw JPLs full CGI landing sequence some time ago- but the Horizon episode was good for introducing us to some of the people involved, people who must be very happy now!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: skycrane

I saw the Horizon program last night on iPlayer and couldn't believe what I was seeing. It'll never work I thought angrily, did they ever hear of K.I.S.S? How wrong was I...

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Boffin

Re: Haven't seen the footage yet...

I also wish they’d put a tiny upward-looking camera to catch the skycrane in action — even if it never got used for anything else (although I’m sure it would have been).

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@ The Axe

Yes, noticed that, and judging by the distinctly non-oriental appearance of the guy behind the screen, I'd guess that was a set-up.

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Bod
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Re: Haven't seen the footage yet...

"I'm glad to see the skycrane idea worked "

I want video evidence, or it didn't happen.

Just looks like it's parked on someone's driveway at the moment :P

Wake me when they find the Ice Warriors though!

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Re: Haven't seen the footage yet...

If all the gear worked, there is video of the descent. It just hasn't been transmitted back to Earth yet.

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/mission/instruments/cameras/mardi/

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I'm mildly amused by the right-hand image that El Reg captured. Is it just me, or does it look like someone should be saying "That's not a moon, that's a space station"?

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Re: skycrane

It's almost enough to restore one's faith in religion. At the very least it certainly does appear that those prayers to Saint Rube Goldberg paid off!

Good job all around.

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Re: Haven't seen the footage yet...

...If only we could have had a video feed of that decent and landing. That would have been one awesome sight.

When the Curiosity next-gen rover project was announced, my first thought was that maybe this would be the rover with the ability to capture and transmit full-motion video, even if it was only 320x240 grayscale clips. Oh, well, too bad, would've been cool. Still, this little hot rod's made of awesome, anyway.

I was never sure what kind of camera system -- if any -- the sky crane had. Pathfinder and MER, iirc, had low-res downward-pointed cameras that worked as part of the ground acquisition system for descent and landing. Some of the first images to come back from Pathfinder (and MER, if I remember) were ground-acquisition camera images looking straight down at the surface transmitted some seconds before touchdown.

I guess if Curiosity's sky crane had a system like that, we'd have gotten some really dramatic images back by now, of the newly-landed rover viewed from above as the sky crane flew off to auger itself in a safe distance away.

Speaking of which... shame, really, that the presence of spilled excess fuel at the sky crane's crash site preclude a visit by the Rover. Those would've been some really interesting images, especially for the engineers. Some of my favorite fotos from Spirit and Opportunity were the close-up shots of their crashed heatshields and backshells taken for the benefit of the engineers.

And now, I'll just finish with a song...

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Happy

Gold Medal to the NASA team!

This is what science and engineering are all about. Centuries of astronomy, maths, and engineering. Bloody marvellous! More inspirational than the Olympics.

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Re: Gold Medal to the NASA team!

It is a great achievement, but more inspirational than the Olympics? Not a chance mate.

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Happy

Re: Gold Medal to the NASA team!

Yeah, Glad they finally got that feet/meters thing sorted out.

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Re: Gold Medal to the NASA team!

If humanity has a future, it is going to depend a lot more on space travel and engineering than on running and jumping up and down and round and round, no matter how good the Olympians are at that.

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Congratulations too for the BBC who have finally found something more important than the Olympics to headline on their news site.

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Headlined for all over a few seconds. If it wasn't for the Olympics there might have been coverage of the whole "seven minutes of terror".

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Go

Yeah, looks like it's just a change in editorial policy. When I posted that earlier there was only that one story but it now it appears other stories are appearing. Maybe sanity (or what passes for it) is returning to the Beeb?

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Coat

Warning!

Permit Holders Only

Wheel Clamping Zone

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Ru
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Terminator

Re: Warning!

You ever tried to clamp a nuclear laser tank?

Good luck.

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Anonymous Coward

NASA does it right.

NASA realise the public is interested in this stuff and give what the people want. The people in the control room want to see the facts and figures, not pretty pictures, but they have a CGI parachuting probe on a big screen so the less technical public can get some visualisation of what's happening up there. The first picture was almost instantly downloaded, more for the press than the scientists I'm sure. And a substantial portion of the earth's population getting interested in science.

Contrast this with the startup of the LHC a few years ago. A room full of people staring blankly at screen full of figures. Cameramen desperately looking for something interesting to film. And now a public who can't be bothered to understand what the LHC is all about.

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Re: NASA does it right.

well, in all fairness, the LHC presents something that is a whole lot more abstract then Curiosity.

Curiosity is something the average person sitting in front of the TV can picture in their mind whereas when you tell them that at the LHC 2 beams are colliding at godknowshowmany TeV they will just stare at you blankly not knowing what the hell you're talking about.

also, what would you imagine an animation of what goes on at the LHC is going to look like ? 2 beams hitting each other and then suddenly a burst of pixels ... not very interesting to watch.

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Re: NASA does it right.

> screen full of figures

On the Horizon programme, the control staff ran a few simulations (with some techs in a back room throwing some virtual spanners in the works)... which seemed to be mostly people staring at screens full of figures.

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yawn

must be monday again

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Oh, go and grow an imagination.

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Trollface

"Hmm... Another indication of which OS is preferred by The Best and the Brightest™"

If @NASAJPL is to believed, that would be VxWorks.

Though I'm sure the Macs look nice on telly.

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Re: "Hmm... Another indication of which OS is preferred by The Best and the Brightest™"

I thought they said the Rover itself used VxWorks?

OSX no doubt useful as it is a proper Unix.

(Plus it makes them look like Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day. Maybe if the Rover comes across some malevolent alien tech, they can use their Macbooks to upload a virus and save the day?)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Hmm... Another indication of which OS is preferred by The Best and the Brightest™"

Not so much the o/s - even NASA can't refuse a bunch of free laptops !

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Re: "Hmm... Another indication of which OS is preferred by The Best and the Brightest™"

The screenshots I've seen (possibly not from those laptops, however) are not OSX, so possibly they're just using the hardware.

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Meh

Re: "Hmm... Another indication of which OS is preferred by The Best and the Brightest™"

You actually believe Apple gave ANYTHING away for free?

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Re: "Hmm... Another indication of which OS is preferred by The Best and the Brightest™"

Well, they run fairly quietly, have a 16:10 screen (handy if you're looking at a long list of figures) and if one fails you just grab another out of the cupboard and restore a disc image.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Hmm... Another indication of which OS is preferred by The Best and the Brightest™"

http://www.gigapan.com/gigapans/110926

The Macbook on the left of this image is running OSX.

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Re: "Hmm... Another indication of which OS is preferred by The Best and the Brightest™"

"You actually believe Apple gave ANYTHING away for free?"

Incredible PR opportunity - more than worth the cost of a few laptops.

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Re: "Hmm... Another indication of which OS is preferred by The Best and the Brightest™"

Given that this was an automated landing, those Macs wouldn't have been doing anything more than consuming a datafeed and displaying it. Something which could be done of pretty much any hardware.

It's not like they're actually going to trust the piloting job to a commercial laptop, although I wouldn't have minded having a go, I used to be good at Lander back in the 80s... Although the latency might make this version a bit more challenging.

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Re: "Hmm... Another indication of which OS is preferred by The Best and the Brightest™"

"You actually believe Apple gave ANYTHING away for free?"

Yeah, and that was Jeff Goldblum's personal Mac in Independence Day.

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Ru
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Windows

Re: "Hmm... Another indication of which OS is preferred by The Best and the Brightest™"

If you have a look at one of the other Reg curiosity articles you'll notice that JPL does not appear to be partisan about their choice of software.

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Pint

Re: "Hmm... Another indication of which OS is preferred by The Best and the Brightest™"

Quite right. On the video feed, there were quite a few recognizable Thinkpads and other laptops than just Apple kit, even at that table. So which OS is preferred by The Best and the Brightest? Whichever one is the right tool for the job at hand, no more, no less.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Hmm... Another indication of which OS is preferred by The Best and the Brightest™"

Can you tell me how you inserted URLs? I can't find anything about formatting posts..

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Coat

Re: "Hmm... Another indication of which OS is preferred by The Best and the Brightest™"

Bit of a missed oppurtunity (...) from Microsoft before they had to change name.

They could've had a Rover Metro interface....

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