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The one thing keeping me awake right now…

It’s been a long day, and a rough long evening of travel. I got into Minneapolis at midnight, and I’m so tired I’ve just checked into a cheap motel to get some sleep.

So why am I lying here clinging to my iPad watching NASA TV? I’m probably going to pass out soon with my arms wrapped around it.

Go, Mars Curiosity, go!


Yay! Landing successful! That means I can fall asleep now.

Comments

  1. silomowbray says

    This is a welcome event after ‘engaging’ with a social conservative on another blog just now. From dealing with deluded, vicious douchebaggery to soaking in the wonderful feeling of discovery and scientific inquiry. Yay! Go little space buggy robot!

  2. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    Yes.Yes.Yes.Yes.

    3 years ago, I wouldn’t have cared about this. I’m glad I’m not that person any longer.

    This is incredibly awesome.

    It’s also a very welcome change from some of the crap that’s been going on this week.

  3. says

    It appears to have made it, frickin’ amazing. This thing was so complicated it seems impossible. I wonder what the DI/ID crowd would think about the complexity of this thing, can’t possibly have happened, too improbable. Now if it finds life, things are really going to change!

  4. Sili says

    Hot fucking damn!

    I honestly didn’t think it’d work.

    They had pictures within minutes!

    We live in wonderful times.

    (How long before Congress pulls the plug?)

  5. chigau (違う) says

    Shopped!
    (actually I have been tearing about this kind of stuff since the 60s)

  6. theophontes (坏蛋) says

    @ Sili

    (How long before Congress pulls the plug?)

    If Romney gets in? Next NASA mission to Kolob …

    @ Curiosity

    Yay dinky little dinky toy!

  7. kyoseki says

    SCIENCE!

    I’m honestly amazed that the whole Rube Goldberg thing worked… I just hope there was a GoPro or something on the skycrane because that footage is going to be incredible.

  8. John Phillips, FCD says

    Not so dinky for a Mars rover as it is about the size of a small car, hence the requirement for the complex landing procedure, but yay Curiosity and NASA.

  9. says

    On NASA TV the announcer said “We’re on Mars again.” Oh come on, Opportunity’s still working, doing valuable science.

    Even though Curiosity’s a hell of a lot more sciency (and should finally determine the methane question, along with we-know-not-what the sediments show), that Opportunity’s still plugging away at an interesting site shouldn’t be forgotten.

    Glen Davidson

  10. says

    randomfactor @8:

    She stuck the landing!

    Stuck the landing indeed! If I understood correctly, it was moving ~1 foot/sec vertically and not at all horizontally when it landed. All that with a little over 1 kg of fuel remaining. Ridiculously nicely judged!

  11. Akira MacKenzie says

    SCIENCE!!!

    A good end to an otherwise crappy day; nearly was late for work because someone had the brilliant idea of putting our State Fair in our largest city where the freeways would be tied up for miles, got embroiled in a tedious FaceBook debate with a Christian who was “offended” by my comments regarding a certain Olympic gymnast who credits here success to her god, the shooting at a local Sikh temple, and some personal stuff between myself a young lady I was courting a few months back to a turn for the disappointing.

    Now I got to go to bed so I can put in 12 hours at work tomorrow, then another 12 hours Tuesday, and another on Wednesday…

    Ha ha! Somebody fucking kill me.

  12. The Rat King says

    And instead of science, the wankers at the microphone are banging the fucking patriot drum ‘WUR NUMMER WUN! WURRR NUMMER WUN! YOUUU-ESSS-EEEEHHHH’

    Fucking hate that bullshit. STICK TO THE SCIENCE YOU BASTARDS.

  13. StevoR says

    Wheels on Mars! Magnificent achivement and just the beginning.

    Congratulations NASA-JPL and everyone inviolve dinthe Curiosity rover.

    Such a great day. So many hopefully still to come. Superluminous (beyond merely brilliant) to watch. :-)

  14. StevoR says

    @22.The Rat King :

    And instead of science, the wankers at the microphone ..

    Are the very people who put that robot rover there – on frwakin’ Mars – and enabled us all to get the science. Plenty of time for that later and that’ll come soon enough.

    Sorry that you’re anti-American, anti-Western anti-patriotic streak ewon’t let you enjoy the momet you sad person.

    Oh & go USA!:-P

    Yes it is something that American know-how and taxpayermoney managed to give us all. For fucking once, forget your fucking politics and enjoy it can’t you?

  15. StevoR says

    Rat king : NASA – and Americans have earnt their moment of patriotism and in this case saying “USA! USA! USA! No.1″and waving the flag is fully fucking warranted.

    This wasn’t a Russian or Chinese rover remember, fucker.

  16. says

    NASA – and Americans have earnt their moment of patriotism and in this case saying “USA! USA! USA! No.1″and waving the flag is fully fucking warranted.

    This wasn’t a Russian or Chinese rover remember, fucker.

    It wasn’t powered by pride in god and country either asshole.

  17. says

    USA did it, my ass. For one, the signals that NASA received came via Australia. It’s quite pathetic and a little bit cringeworthy to suggest that such a big multinational enterprise is in any way the success of citizens of one single country.

    HERP A DERP DERP DERP!

    We just put a fucking tank on another world and you’re obsessed about imaginary lines on a map

  18. ibyea says

    No, America did not earn it. It is the people who worked there that earned it. Many Americans couldn’t give a damn anyways except in the most superficial sense.

  19. sc_f200960c3b64b447971ce70ce4823f6b says

    Not “SCIENCE!!!” yet now comes the data… The fun is in the quest for and the endeavor in the jurney. Congrats to the NASA and world team who got us all this far and the fun to come!

  20. says

    I’ve been a NASA fan since 1968, when they sent three guys around the moon around Christmas. I stayed up and watched the first moon landing.
    NASA is subject to the same in-group dynamics as pretty much every other organization, and it’s cost them dearly at times, but they’ve also been successful enough that the most amazing feats have often seemed mundane to the general public, and often our politicians have failed to appreciate that.
    I’m still a bit of a kid, though. I’m tempted to put on my NASA cap and launch me some models.
    Fucking Mars, man. A little red dot in the sky and they reached across millions of miles of empty space and touched it.

    the wankers at the microphone are banging the fucking patriot drum

    Well, shit. How often do we get to celebrate a success that doesn’t involve blowing shit up anymore? Let us have this.

  21. says

    I’m just assuming it didn’t land on Gilligan’s Island. If the pictures show huts and/or chicken people, I wouldn’t get excited.

  22. Lofty says

    On a slightly sad note, the body of a rare Martian Sand Cat was seen on the edge of the crater in the first picture, fried by the mighty sky-crane’s rockets.
    Yeah, Curiosity Killed The Cat.

  23. john says

    As to (drum banging) think and bitch “organize and change” how they get funded first. If you have issue go to the root “follow the money”. Keep sailing the queen up the river to great fan fair for what purpose? Winning hearts and minds is so funny to watch from one BS fest to another.

  24. petrander says

    So why am I lying here clinging to my iPad watching NASA TV?

    Dopamin.

    Face it. You are addicted to knowledge. Welcome to the club.

  25. AshPlant says

    As to (drum banging) think and bitch “organize and change” how they get funded first. If you have issue go to the root “follow the money”. Keep sailing the queen up the river to great fan fair for what purpose? Winning hearts and minds is so funny to watch from one BS fest to another.

    This was so incredibly comprehensible and enlightening that I’m going to let your use of ‘bitch’ slide. Little things like that can be forgiven in the face of such a mighty intellect.

  26. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    StevoR:

    Sorry that you’re anti-American, anti-Western anti-patriotic streak ewon’t let you enjoy the momet you sad person.

    Oh & go USA!:-P

    Yes it is something that American know-how and taxpayermoney managed to give us all. For fucking once, forget your fucking politics and enjoy it can’t you?

    You’ve got to be kidding me.
    Are you going to minimize this accomplishment by attributing it to the USA?
    I’m a US citizen and I’m proud that this country helped achieve this goal, but y’know all the men and women involved did stand on the shoulders of a helluva lot of people before them and not all of them were American. Not to mention this is an accomplishment for *mankind*.
    It wasn’t “One small step for man. One giant leap for the United States.”

  27. Menyambal --- Sambal's sockpuppet says

    Yay science and yay human beings!

    And a big holler for the engineers.

    A big frickin’ robot just landed on another planet.

    I just love that the treads of the wheels have a pattern that spells out JPL in Morse code.

  28. robro says

    Walked into my house around 11:00, and my 20 year old son greeted me with the news. He had watched the landing, and was then watching the celebration. What a thrill! And to have him into it so much was just awesome. It’s worth it just for that…particularly when multiplied by all the kids and adults in every corner of the world that are inspired by such successes to think outside their own little parochial place in the world. And then there’s all we’ll learn from our Curiosity.

  29. coldthinker says

    StevoR —

    It is not the anti-Americans spoiling this touchdown moment. NASA leaders spoiled it by turning it political. Apparently the patriotic hubris is often so inherent in being American, that you can’t see how embarassing this flag waving is to international partners involved in developing this mission.

    I am a huge fan of NASA. This was a wonderful accomplishment, a feat of ingenuity. And yes, while there were a few international institutions involved, this is of course mainly a NASA accomplishment. Everybody understands that the scientists, engineers and organizations responsible for this feat were mainly American, and deserve to be proud.

    But why do the NASA leaders concentrate on this being about American political leadership? According to NASA, this wasn’t a feat of humanity. Contrary to what their silly international associates might have thought, this was less about science and more about creating a political triumph for American forces, all in order to prove how American leadership makes this world a better place.

    The Spanish, Russian, French, Finnish, German, Canadian, Chinese and UK scientists and engineers taking part in this effort worked hard to promote our scientific understanding for all humanity. Not to promote American interests in global politics. I wonder how much domestic funding they will get next time after Bolden’s speech. Very embarrassing.

    My exhilaration turned into sadness. NASA just made clear the US doesn’t want friends, it wants subordinates. There’s a party, but you dirty foreigners should eat in the kitchen.

  30. john says

    OK all this is how it works in the USA now!

    When you have a big enough conservative “USA version of conservative, does not relate to reality or normal international definitions of the term” element in power all government minus the Military and other well armed able to kill bodies need to do as follows:

    1. How can we make us more needed or loved?
    2. Ok when people chant USA people win elections.
    3. Do things as much on our own but use and even work with China or RUSSA or anybody to set it up so USA gets chanted as much as we can.
    4. On TV and most media make sure the electors see USA getting chanted.
    5. Budget only got cut by .5% that could of been worse. “Whooo Good work all”.

    the end,

    P.S.
    Thanks for the kind words AshPlant!

  31. Louis says

    Well regardless of this turning into Jingoism for Fun and Profit, I’m sodding proud of everyone and everything involved. I think it’s cool that we as a species can just occasionally rise above the less cooperative chimpy tendencies and explore the world around us without bashing each others’ heads in.

    I look forward to all the exciting new data that should come out of these experiments.

    Louis

    P.S. I am not an engineer, but that landing sequence…phew! That was beyond merely impressive.

  32. submoron says

    Brilliant! I booked the week as holiday (sanity break) and only realised that this was happening on last Wednesday. I’m free to enjoy all of it.
    As to all of this chauvinism I’m human (despite being British) and human beings did it. Well done Americans!

  33. KG says

    Brilliant! The next few years should see an order of magnitude increase in what we know about the surface and subsurface of Mars. My hunch is that there has never been life on Mars – unless it came from Earth on a meteorite – because I think the origin of life probably needs fairly specific conditions. But I’d be delighted to be proved wrong.

  34. davem says

    Well, I really thought that I’d be saying ‘I told you so’ about the thing crashing, what with its over-complicated landing sequence. I’m really glad I’m not doing that today.

    Last year I attended a lecture given by one of the engineers designing the cameras on the lander. None of them had American accents. This is a victory for mankind, not just the US.

  35. ibyea says

    @KG
    Well, the first life on Earth arose within 500 million years, so it is possible Mars could have had life, but then conditions went unfavorable due it being a really small planet.

  36. theophontes (坏蛋) says

    Mitt is on a Mission:

    Pic , pic 2.

    Raw PNG for those with far too much time on their hands (and a penchant for computer graphics.)

    /x-post to TET

  37. John Morales says

    It’s armed with a laser.

    ChemCam: ChemCam is a suite of remote sensing instruments, including the first laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) system to be used for planetary science and a remote micro-imager (RMI).[41][42] The LIBS instrument can target a rock or soil sample from up to 7 meters away, vaporizing a small amount of it with a 5-nanosecond pulse from a 1067 nm infrared laser and then collecting a spectrum of the light emitted by the vaporized rock.

    [I kid, I kid!]

  38. says

    stevo the moron,

    NASA – and Americans have earnt their moment of patriotism and in this case saying “USA! USA! USA! No.1″and waving the flag is fully fucking warranted.

    It takes some dimwittery to not realize that a mission like this can’t be realized by one country in isolation anymore these days. It’s been pointed out to you already that the signals NASA received came via Australia, and that at least 7 other countries and their teams of scientists were major contributors to the project (and the rover as it stands on Mars now). How anyone could still sell this amazing multinational effort as evidence for American superiority is really beyond me.

  39. says

    Yay science!!! Yay human species!!!

    But why do the NASA leaders concentrate on this being about American political leadership? According to NASA, this wasn’t a feat of humanity. Contrary to what their silly international associates might have thought, this was less about science and more about creating a political triumph for American forces, all in order to prove how American leadership makes this world a better place.

    The Spanish, Russian, French, Finnish, German, Canadian, Chinese and UK scientists and engineers taking part in this effort worked hard to promote our scientific understanding for all humanity. Not to promote American interests in global politics. I wonder how much domestic funding they will get next time after Bolden’s speech. Very embarrassing.

    My exhilaration turned into sadness. NASA just made clear the US doesn’t want friends, it wants subordinates. There’s a party, but you dirty foreigners should eat in the kitchen.

    Indeed. This was very much an international accomplishment, yet all you’ll hear in the media is ‘AMERICAAA FUCK YEAH!!! USA! USA!”. It’s sad. So many scientists from so many countries contributed to this yet some-including NASA leaders apparently-want to make this about petty patriotism and nationalism. Fuck them. We the human species did something awesome.

  40. says

    StevoR,

    This wasn’t just an American accomplishment and those that use this as evidence of the US’ superiority are ignorant assholes. Yes, Americans can be proud of this, but the whole ‘we’re number one’ thing is just stupid. This was a great accomplishment for the people of this planet. It’s a great accomplishment for all the scientists and engineers involved. Not just the Americans but the Chinese, Finnish, French, British, Canadian, German and Australian people who contributed. Therefore ‘USA! USA! We’re No. 1!!!’ is not warranted.

  41. Duckbilled Platypus says

    I think NASA leadership is just deliberately pandering for public support and the continued financial support of the next government. Economic affairs could very well cut them short on the budget in the following years. Blatant nationalism opens wallets.

    It’s dirty and it leaves me with a bad taste, but I can’t help and think NASA wouldn’t normally make such statements except if they knew that it could be beneficial to their mission. It might just have been a calculated move on their part. I just hope their international colleagues and partners are aware of that necessity, too.

  42. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Great news to wake up to. The folks at JPL are to be congratulated.

  43. Duckbilled Platypus says

    I just hope their international colleagues and partners are aware of that necessity, too.

    By which I mean, that they won’t feel underappreciated over it.

  44. John Morales says

    pentatomid,

    This was very much an international accomplishment, yet all you’ll hear in the media is ‘AMERICAAA FUCK YEAH!!! USA! USA!”. It’s sad.

    A bit grouchy, that.

    (It was NASA, not ESA)

  45. dianne says

    Yay, curiosity and Curiosity.

    As far as the UScentric media coverage, a couple of thoughts, some more cynical than others:

    1. NASA won’t get funded if they acknowledge how international their work is. The congresspeople from Georgia, Montana, and upstate New York will respond to arguments about “keeping America first” more than they will to arguments about science.
    2. I don’t know about the engineers, but the scientists at JPL almost certainly think of themselves as scientists first, Americans second. If they are Americans. Lots aren’t. Astronomy isn’t a game for one country to play any more.
    3. Where is ESA’s rover? Come on, folks, as has already been pointed out, it’s cheaper than the Olympics. And a lot more likely to have a long term impact. Surely it’s time to put Kuriositaet on Mars too.

  46. gragra, something clever after the comma says

    On behalf of Australia I’d like to apologiz(s)e for StevoR. While Australia has its share of morons, they aren’t usually the “Ra Ra USA” type. I’m surprised natural selection hasn’t cut him down a peg back in Oz.

  47. puppygod says

    To reiterate – we (as we – humanity) have send a laser-toting and packed to the brim with scientific equipment robot powered with nuclear battery on a trip over half billion kilometers to the another planet and safely landed it with combination of thin-air supersonic parachutes, retro-rockets and flying winch. It’s not awesome. It’s crazy fucking awesome!

    When I was a kid I used to read science fiction stories about XXI century and space exploration. I’m really happy to live in XXI century now. And these stories? It’s just science now. Amazing.

    Oh, and StevoR – wanna bet that there are parts signed “made in China” on Mars?

  48. procyon says

    London Olympics cost $19 billion
    Curiosity on Mars cost $2.4 billion

    Cost of the Halliburton War ~$2 trillion and rising, including healthcare for returned vets

  49. coldthinker says

    It’s dirty and it leaves me with a bad taste, but I can’t help and think NASA wouldn’t normally make such statements except if they knew that it could be beneficial to their mission. It might just have been a calculated move on their part. I just hope their international colleagues and partners are aware of that necessity, too

    How do you think the scientist, tax payers, governments and investors of the other countries feel, when their efforts go to promoting American global politics? Happy to support the next mission? NASA is great, it has evidently more knowledge and experience about space missions than ESA or Russia, but there will be political pressure to join scientific forces with international friends who actually respect you and your small contribution.

  50. One Thousand Needles says

    What amazing timing and execution. I’m glad they got some data back during that Odyssey pass, or I wouldn’t be able to get anything done today.

    Supposedly the Mars Recon Orbiter got a sweet photo of the lander with the parachute deployed, which is to be revealed during the press conference later today.

  51. Duckbilled Platypus says

    How do you think the scientist, tax payers, governments and investors of the other countries feel, when their efforts go to promoting American global politics? Happy to support the next mission? NASA is great, it has evidently more knowledge and experience about space missions than ESA or Russia, but there will be political pressure to join scientific forces with international friends who actually respect you and your small contribution.

    Please understand, I’m not saying they do not deserve the credit or that they should just bite their lip with all this patriotic back-patting. I’m actually hoping that when a different channel is on, a different message is broadcasted.

  52. dianne says

    The people doing the actual work are almost certainly rolling their eyes at the patriotic nonsense being slung about. Their agenda is to find out cool things about Mars. But the people who interface with the politicians and the public have so sell NASA and JPL in ways that will appeal to them. And the easiest, unfortunately, is patriotism.

  53. McC2lhu does not have gerseberms says

    I’m not in the least bit surprised about the nationalistic cheerleading. It was certainly awkward to watch knowing how much international effort goes into every space project. However, if you were able to see the press conferences afterwards the director is chummy with Obama’s science advisor. It’s an election year. It was bound to happen.

    I also wonder how many in the mission control building wouldn’t care that politics are invoked. Regardless of their nationality, there can’t be many people in that building that want Rmoney to win, especially if they’ve dedicated their lives to science and evidence. Trying to invoke the same sort of sentiments that floated around during the Apollo years could give a boost to a sitting president. A huge chunk of the public wouldn’t be aware that the project and foundations for the project were set in motion long before the current administration (2004 – Shrub Jr.).

    I’m not saying it’s right or classy, but there was zero chance that this opportunity for abusing mob psychology wasn’t going to be missed by the political set.

    Unfortunately, because it is a DOG-FUCKINGLY LONG election cycle, now that it’s been politicized, the argument is going to distract from the point that there’s an amazing robot sitting on Mars that just survived the bastard brainchild landing sequence of Wile E. Coyote and Rube Goldberg. If it lives up to the expectations of its great Polaroid-style chemistry experiments (you have to wait 14 minutes for results), Curiosity will be one of the greatest science achievements of humanity. It already wins as one of humanity’s greatest engineering achievements.

  54. KG says

    ibyea@51,

    It’s possible, yes, but there’s no clear evidence of plate tectonics on Mars; and plate tectonics plays an important part in the scenario described in my link: rocks freshly exposed by plate growth react with seawater in a process called serpentinisation, producing both heat and reduced gases (hydrogen methane, hydrogen sulphide); both heat and the gases return to the surface in the alkaline vents where the scenario suggests life got started.

  55. joed says

    I don’t see this posted yet.
    To get an idea of the luck it took to get Curiosity to soft land on Mars. Of course there is tremendous international effort, skill, and experience necessary for this great human endeavor.
    It is a 5 minute video from NASA/JPL.
    Curiosity’s Seven Minutes of Terror
    http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/video/index.cfm?id=1090

  56. says

    Where is ESA’s rover? Come on, folks, as has already been pointed out, it’s cheaper than the Olympics. And a lot more likely to have a long term impact. Surely it’s time to put Kuriositaet on Mars too.

    I’m not entirely sure how it helps science to duplicate that part of it. Hard enough to get these kinds of missions funded and off the ground once, as a global effort. Pretty much the only reason for ESA to develop their own infrastructure for this stuff is if they had to assume NASA to be dead and dismantled a few years down the road.

  57. taylorbaine says

    We had this same sense of wonder and national accomplishment back in the 1970′s when the Viking Mars lander hit the surface of Mars. I remember, as a child, waiting for those first pictures to be transmitted. I couldn’t breath.

    Here we are 36 years later doing the same thing.

    Taylor
    http://taylorbaine.com

  58. opie says

    I too was quite put off by all the nationalistic cheerleading. But, as others have said, it is a political necessity. NASA’s administrator has to do what he can to save the Mars program in the coming years. Otherwise, this will be the last mission for the foreseeable future. “The White House budget proposal cuts NASA’s Mars funding from $587 million this year to $360 million in 2013, and then to just $189 million in 2015.” Source: http://tinyurl.com/d3z6bka

    It’s disgusting we all but force our scientists and researchers to plead for money using the parochial and base tactics of nationalism.

  59. says

    John Morales,

    (It was NASA, not ESA)

    Yes, so? It still was an international endeavor, with scientists from all over the globe contributing. I don’t fucking care whether in the end it was NASA, ESA or the chinese who ended up putting the bloody thing on Mars, I want people to recognise the fact that these kinds of projects are born out of cooperation. I want people to be proud of this accomplishment as humans, not for reasons of dumb nationalism or patriotism.
    I get that NASA really needs the public support and the nationalist/patriotic propaganda is therefore sort of necessary, but that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it.

  60. says

    John Morales,

    Actually, if people were shouting ‘NASA FUCK YEAH!!!’ I’d be in full suport of that. But the ‘USA! USA! We’re number 1!!!’ stuff is just so fucking stupid and it’s mostly comiong from people who don’t give

  61. coldthinker says

    dianne -

    The people doing the actual work are almost certainly rolling their eyes at the patriotic nonsense being slung about. Their agenda is to find out cool things about Mars.

    I sincerely hope that is true. They are amazing people.

    But the people who interface with the politicians and the public have so sell NASA and JPL in ways that will appeal to them. And the easiest, unfortunately, is patriotism.

    Well, that’s what irritates me. It’s like Brazil winning the World Cup, suddenly the current government claims the victory as a demonstration of their prowess. Whatever the country, patriotism is a cheap tribal emotion, usually close to rasism and religion.

  62. says

    OKay, what just happened?

    Again:
    John Morales,

    Actually, if people were shouting ‘NASA FUCK YEAH!!!’ I’d be in full suport of that. But the ‘USA! USA! We’re number 1!!!’ stuff leaves a very bad taste in the mouth indeed. It’s an expression of a feeling of American superiority. I don’t like that. End of story.

  63. dianne says

    I’m not entirely sure how it helps science to duplicate that part of it.

    Because if you can’t repeat it, it isn’t science. And I’d rather not have everything we think we know about Mars riding on one instrument’s getting it right.

    That being said, though, the political point is a good one. It would be hard to convince anyone to repeat a 2 billion dollar/Euro experiment. But there are other planets, major and minor. Send a rover to the asteroid belt? Or maybe Venus? Venus has a nice thick atomsphere, should be good for parachuting.

    Pretty much the only reason for ESA to develop their own infrastructure for this stuff is if they had to assume NASA to be dead and dismantled a few years down the road.

    It’s still a strong possibility. If Curiosity had crashed, that would have been that for JPL. JPL still might go under if they can’t get the James Webb telescope off the ground too. Every single thing JPL does now is make or break for it. One day something will go wrong and its funding will disappear. NASA per se might survive, but only as an adjunct to the military. Id like to see ESA, China, Russia and maybe South America all develop or maintain independent planetary exploration programs.

  64. machintelligence says

    Oh hell, allow the USA a little pride. We don’t currently have any manned spaceflight capability, or heavy lift vehicles, but NASA is the only program to soft land missions successfully on Mars. (USSR Mars 3 lander only sent signals for 20 seconds, count it a success if you want.)

  65. dianne says

    @coldthinker: It irritates me too. I just can’t think of anything to do about it. NASA does amazing things on a shoestring but still they get screwed in a bipartisan manner every year.

  66. dianne says

    We don’t currently have any manned spaceflight capability, or heavy lift vehicles

    And whose fault is that? We could be landing people on Mars now if we wanted to. We just don’t want to. (Collective “we”, as in we as a society, not you and me personally.)

  67. Randomfactor says

    I wonder what the DI/ID crowd would think about the complexity of this thing,

    Intelligent design.

  68. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    ‘Tis Himself @59:

    Seconded.
    After a week of fried bigotry chicken sandwiches, this was such a welcome accomplishment.

  69. says

    I was a Caltech undergrad in the good old days of Mariner 9. We would get first-person accounts from classmates who were JPL interns and our school paper used to run the latest Mars photos (even before some of the major metropolitan newspapers). It was as exciting a time as I’ve ever known.

    But this is good, too!

  70. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    Oh hell, allow the USA a little pride.

    I haven’t seen anyone say the United States shouldn’t take pride in this accomplishment. What people are pointing out is that the US wasn’t the only country to contribute. It was a team effort. It does a tremendous disservice to the men and women from across the world to trumpet the Mars landing as a US achievement.
    Like the moon landing, this was done by the people of the world.

  71. says

    Because if you can’t repeat it, it isn’t science.

    le wut. how is having (for example) several launch pads in several different countries instead of in one more sciency?

    you’re supposed to repeat the experiments, not the infrastructure.

  72. machintelligence says

    Tony @ 92

    Like the moon landing, this was done by the people of the world.

    As I recall it, the lunar landings were part of the “space race” between the USSR and the USA. The USA won.

  73. john says

    My bet is this will also be used for the argument to refine more nuke fuel of this type so we, they and our pards can have power not only from the sun. If Presidents can executive order classes of nukes gone when the are leaving(quiet like) can they order more fuel to be made(without congress)?

  74. StevoR says

    @Inmg and others :

    For fuck’s sake. It wasn’t me that started that.

    Some asshole spat the dummy and called the people who brought us this “wankers” for being proud and patriotic in their moment of success.

    I thought that was churlish,ungrateful blatantly politically anti-American, offensive and utterly stupid and said so.

    The NASA guys have earnt the right to celeberate this however the fuck they choose to.

    Sheesh. The anti-Western cultural relativism here is sometimes rather staggering in its sour bigotedness. Really.

    As for superiority, well yeah, one nation put men (& so far inly men, one day, sigh..) on the Moon with help from a few others like my own nation of Australia. Doesn’t that kind of prove cultural superiority at least in some ways like being able to explore space better than others?

    The USA is the number 1 spacefaring nation – scientific fact.

  75. StevoR says

    Here we are, NASA have landed a rover on fucking *Mars!*

    Gone boldly and achieved magnificently and yet too many people here are like “Oh.. boo Amercia, team effort, yadda yadda , how bad that Amercians dare take pride and be patriotic for a change..” in suceeding for their national space agency.

    Yeesh. Get over yourselves! Can’t y’all just enjoy it for at least say an hour or three before you start up again with the anti-American hate drum eh? Obviously not.

  76. StevoR says

    @96. McC2lhu does not have gerseberms :

    Yay! The USA won. When do we get to see the medal?

    You’ll see something much better than a medal when you go to the NASA website and Curiosity facebookpage and elsewhere.

    You’ll see pictures from NASA of their Mars rover and martian landscapes and science and more for a couple of years to come.

    That beats a gold medallion any day in my book.

  77. machintelligence says

    Just to set the record straight:
    Picarini @ 19

    All that with a little over 1 kg of fuel remaining. Ridiculously nicely judged!

    You were off by 2 orders of magnitude. There were about 122 kg remaining. (I stuck around for the after mission report and that’s what I remember.)

  78. says

    the anti-American hate drum

    Here we go again. Noone is beating any anti-American hate drum. We are just pointing out that this isn’t just an American accomplishment. People from all over the world contributed to this project and that fact deserves to be recognized. We as a human species can do so much when we work together. Please demonstrate where people are being anti-american? Where are people being anti-Western? Is asking that the Australian, German, French, Finnish, British, Canadian and Chinese scientists and engineers get recognition for their achievement somehow anti-American? Noone has said Americans shouldn’t be proud of this. NASA achieved something great here. But they damn well didn’t do it alone.
    The hate drum is in your head.

  79. Richard Austin says

    StevoR:

    As for superiority, well yeah, one nation put men (& so far inly men, one day, sigh..) on the Moon with help from a few others like my own nation of Australia. Doesn’t that kind of prove cultural superiority at least in some ways like being able to explore space better than others?

    Do you know what the greatest accomplishment of the moon landing was?

    Astronaut Michael Collins:

    After the flight of Apollo 11, the three of us went on a round the world trip. Wherever we went, people instead of saying, well, you Americans did it, everywhere they said – WE did it! We, humankind, we the human race…and I had never heard of people in different countries use this word we, we, we, as emphatically as we were hearing from Europeans, Asians, Africans. Wherever we went it was – we finally did it!, and I thought that was a wonderful thing; ephemeral, but wonderful.

  80. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    StevoR:

    The anti-Western cultural relativism here is sometimes rather staggering in its sour bigotedness. Really.

    People have not said ‘F*** the US’.
    They’ve said ‘The United States isn’t the only contributor to this probject, so let’s spread the congratulations around’.

    Where you’re getting this bizzare anti-Western cultural relativism is beyond me.

  81. coldthinker says

    Damn it, StevoR, you just don’t get it, do you?

    As for superiority, well yeah, one nation put men (& so far inly men, one day, sigh..) on the Moon with help from a few others like my own nation of Australia. Doesn’t that kind of prove cultural superiority at least in some ways like being able to explore space better than others?

    Why do you insist on childish, near-military terms like “cultural superiority” as if you’re playing a game of Civilization or something? Don’t you realize how arrogant it is to call other cultures inferior, especially when they’re helping and celebrating with their American friends? This cultural pissing contest just diminishes the accomplishment. NASA administrators should accept all humanity as their fans, not turn them off.

    Anyway, I don’t wish to get this on a side track any more. This is an incredible human achievement, let’s just be happy about it. Huge congratulations to all the people at NASA, they really know their business. It’s great that Americans are proud of their space program, as they rightly should.

  82. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    StevoR:

    Gone boldly and achieved magnificently and yet too many people here are like “Oh.. boo Amercia, team effort, yadda yadda , how bad that Amercians dare take pride and be patriotic for a change..” in suceeding for their national space agency.

    Did you read the comments in this thread? I’ve read them all and haven’t seen anyone say the above.
    Once again, people are acknowledging the efforts of people across the planet. You’re the one focusing on the United States without acknowledging the contributions of other countries.

  83. Ivan Filippenko says

    Hooray for Curiosity! :)

    Kudos and gratitude to NASA, JPL, and giants across the world and the centuries on whose shoulders it ascended to Mars!

    Science works! Science rocks! Science wins!

  84. submoron says

    PZ, Please step in and silence all this pro/anti American business?
    It’s distracting from the science.

  85. woodsong says

    I’ve read over the comments, and thought I’d put in my 2 cents…

    The husbeast and I joined the Cornell Space Science community for a live viewing on campus, with three astronomers giving talks about the rover before tuning in to NASA live TV. We didn’t notice any “USA!” cheers in either the control room at JPL, or in the Uris Hall auditorium, just a lot of “Woohoo!”, hugs between the researchers and engineers, and a few wiped-away tears… We enjoyed the presentation, I learned a lot, and we were both thrilled and impressed by how everything worked as it was intended. Let the science begin!

    I looked up the NASA press release, and was pleased with the official statement: (Bolding mine)

    “Today, the wheels of Curiosity have begun to blaze the trail for human footprints on Mars. Curiosity, the most sophisticated rover ever built, is now on the surface of the Red Planet, where it will seek to answer age-old questions about whether life ever existed on Mars — or if the planet can sustain life in the future,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “This is an amazing achievement, made possible by a team of scientists and engineers from around the world and led by the extraordinary men and women of NASA and our Jet Propulsion Laboratory. President Obama has laid out a bold vision for sending humans to Mars in the mid-2030′s, and today’s landing marks a significant step toward achieving this goal.”

    The NASA Administrator is freely and (likely) cheerfully acknowledging the international team effort to put the rover where it now sits. “With the help of our friends, we did it!” (my paraphrase) I’d like to offer my heartfelt congratulations to everyone involved.

    <minor nitpick>BTW, Curiosity isn’t a “dinky toy” robot. theophontes images are closer to the correct scale (and hilarious!), but they’re still too small. The cameras on top of the mast are seven feet above ground. The rover is about the size of an SUV!</minor nitpick>

    (My thanks to Preview!)

    McC2lhu @75:

    there’s an amazing robot sitting on Mars that just survived the bastard brainchild landing sequence of Wile E. Coyote and Rube Goldberg

    LOL!!! (And called the husbeast to repeat for his laugh of the day) Thanks for that description!

  86. The Rat King says

    Wanker StevoR:
    The USA is the number 1 spacefaring nation – scientific fact.

    That has to send it’s astronauts to space via Russia.

    I never said America didn’t have a part in it, you pillock; what I am saying that the Yank chest-pounding and dismissal of the rest of the world’s thinkers and builders who had a direct hand in making critical components of the mission in favour of their own political bullshit is fucking disgusting.

    Let’s say you take an American car and you (An Aussie, though one with brain damage, apparently,) invent a small but important piece for it that allows the car to run twice as efficiently.

    YOU are saying the company who invented the car should get the praise for YOUR work.

    Fuckwit.

  87. thunk (Фарингюловская Народная Республика) says

    Woot! Go Curiosity!

    May she have many years of roving ahead!

  88. woodsong says

    May she have many years of roving ahead!

    Absolutely! The prime mission is 2 years (as opposed to 90 days for Spirit & Opportunity), with enough nuclear fuel (4.8 kg Pu) to last 20 years if everything keeps functioning. Long may she roll!

    One thing that I haven’t seen written up anywhere is the reason why the first pictures were from the hazcams rather than a panoramic view from the mast cameras, as previous rovers have done. According to one of the astronomers who spoke last night at Cornell, there was a lot of concern that the rover might get set down on top of a boulder! In that situation, raising the mast to look around could have tipped Curiosity on her side and ended the mission before it could begin. I was very glad when the first photo was identified as a wheel on soil!

  89. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The prime mission is 2 years (as opposed to 90 days for Spirit & Opportunity), with enough nuclear fuel (4.8 kg Pu) to last 20 years if everything keeps functioning. Long may she roll!

    QFMFT!

  90. machintelligence says

    The hazcams are low resolution B&W cameras that do not have to be separately deployed. As the Mars Observer was going over the horizon a few minutes after landing, this was the best they could do. I recall them saying that the first snapshot was 64 x 64 pixels and the later one was 265 x 256 pixels.

  91. dontpanic says

    Not to detract from the (boring) “USA vs. World” beatdown — David Brin was promoting the meme of “our civilization did this!” (which depending on how narrowly one defines “our” and “civilization” should satisfy both sides) — can we not say:

    Because if you can’t repeat it, it isn’t science.

    That’s much too simplistic and leave scientists open to bad faith charges by cranks and creationists. Think astronomy and evolution. <\peeve>

  92. says

    machintelligence @ 100:

    You were off by 2 orders of magnitude. There were about 122 kg remaining. (I stuck around for the after mission report and that’s what I remember.)

    Thanks for the correction! I heard what sounded liked 1-point-something kg, which seems ridiculously close when I think about it. Presumably the acceleration measurements were for Curiosity itself, while the fuel measurement was for the sky crane?

  93. dianne says

    how is having (for example) several launch pads in several different countries instead of in one more sciency?

    you’re supposed to repeat the experiments, not the infrastructure.

    In the platonic ideal world, sure. But JPL has a huge conflict of interest. Their future is riding on Curiosity. They’re not going to be anxious to admit it if they get no interesting data out of this. Though I must admit that I’m having trouble figuring out any way that the result could be dull. Prior life on Mars or no prior life on Mars, either result is huge. Which comes to the converse problem, namely that game changing results should always be verified. Preferably by a second independent group. Even assuming no deliberate fraud, there are numerous ways that the experiment could go wrong. I’d like a second rover up there, preferably put there by people with no connection at all to JPL or the investigators that put the first one up.

    I’ll admit that’s probably not going to happen. No one’s eager to repeat the LHC or any number of other major experiments either. But we should be pushing for that. Shock the politicians by saying “We really need another one” and see if that softens them up for a mission to an asteroid or something.

    Actually, I heard a rumor thatn ESA is going to do something even cooler than repeating Curiosity, which is sending an exploration to Europa. From Europe to Europa is already cool for the aliteration and Europa’s another place where one might want to wipe one’s feet before returing, just in case there’s some life there….Alas, it won’t land, just orbit.

  94. dianne says

    there’s an amazing robot sitting on Mars that just survived the bastard brainchild landing sequence of Wile E. Coyote and Rube Goldberg

    I quoted this comment to my partner and he suggested an amendment: It was probably James Bond who made the match between Wile E Coyote and Rube Goldberg.

  95. says

    dianne,

    I asked a friend who works at JPL, he doesn’t think that one thing could sink it. But they could move away from space exploration if need be (and if Curiosity had crashed, the Mars program would probably have disappeared).

    Also,

    seeing StevoR have the nerve to claim that putting a man in space is a sign of cultural superority — *headdesk* *facepalm*

  96. dianne says

    pelamun: The claim that JPL was on the line is gossip from someone who doesn’t work at JPL but does review grant proposals for NASA and the NSF regularly and so gets the gossip on what grants are likely to be available in the next few years. The two statements could be reconciled if what he meant was that JPL as a scientific and space agency was on the line. JPL as a weapons lab might go on, but if the Mars program and the James Webb don’t go perfectly, chances are congress will cut JPL off as a research organization.