Mars rocks and rolls

There’s a bit of a lively debate in geology about tectonic plates and how rare or common they may be. Since earth is the only planet we’ve studied in-depth, the winners of that debate are yet to be announced. But one geophysicist has found evidence for nascent plate tectonics on a certain nearby world, and the evidence was there all along: [Read more…]

Mars Curiosity: Countdown!

Update 11:08 Central: Curiosity now reported inside orbit of Martian satellite Deimos, about 14,000 miles away.

The moment of truth is close at hand. As the countdown clock shows, Curiosity will soon enter the Martian stratosphere. The Internet is buzz with excitement and no small amount of anxiety. The seven minutes of terror are about to begin for real. There’s a lot riding on it, both literally and figuratively. Some good links to keep tabs on are Mars Google Hangout (This has been a lot of fun tonight), NASA interactive event schedule, JPL TV, and NASA TV.

To understand the importance of this mission – and Curiosity is about as important a science experiment as we’ve ever created – here’s a quick peek at the fascinating history of our solar system’s most hospitable world, outside of the one we call home. Afterall, you have this much time to kill…

More on Curiosity

Curiosity will be landing, or trying to land, at about 12:30 AM Central Time in the US. A press conference is in progress here, the panelist all opened by saying they’re having to remind themselves to breathe. I’ll be adding to this post throughout the day.

At a press conference today Richard Cook described what is planned. The deep space tracking network will be relaying real time communication with the rover, the first opportunity to hear from the vehicle is likely to be within seconds of landing. Shortly after 12:31 AM engineers will probably know if the landing was a success and there could be images returned a little after that time. On the next pass by an orbiter about two hours later images will probably be returned by the fish eye HazCam.


The priceline negotiator narrates Curiosity on Mars


The older William Shatner gets the more I like him. Kirk was cool and all, but it’s Shatner’s unique combo of gifted actor, great voice, and a guy who can laugh at himself plus get you to laugh along that sold me.  Cosmic Log posted a great video, now below the fold, where Shatner and other Trekkie actors marvel at the MSL and the rover scheduled to land precariously this weekend. Enjoy. [Read more…]

Keyword Mars Curiosity: official landing time, pressers, & streaming info

NASA has retasked the Odyssey orbiter to track the Mars Science Lab carrying the Curiosity, the next generation rover is charging its lithium ion batteries to final 100% capacity courtesy of the solar array on the MSL as we speak. There’s been some confusion on the exact date and time of the seven minutes of terror hope leading to Curiosity’s landing, the current 14 minute light-speed lag between earth and Mars doesn’t exactly help. Official landing times, live stream feeds, and press conference schedule below: [Read more…]