Saturday, August 05, 2017

Video of the Day: Curiosity Celebrates 5 Years on the Red Planet...

In honor of the Curiosity rover successfully landing on Mars five years ago tonight, just thought I'd share this video that I put together from footage that I took at Planetfest 2012. It was at this event, which was hosted by the non-profit space organization The Planetary Society (based in Pasadena, California), where I watched NASA TV coverage of the nuclear-powered spacecraft making its way to its landing site at Gale Crater on the Red Planet. 2,000 fellow space enthusiasts were also at Planetfest to watch this historic event unfold.

Posing with the Curiosity Mars rover and its descent stage behind me, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory on June 6, 2011.

All I can say is, I can't wait to attend another Planetfest (assuming that I won't be working that day) to see a NASA lander or rover make another triumphant touchdown on the Red Planet. Fortunately, the wait should't be too long... Assuming that it stays on schedule (after its launch was delayed from last year due to an issue during testing of one of its science instruments), NASA's InSight lander is set to take off from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base next May and touch down on Mars six months after that in late November. And three years from now, the Mars 2020 rover (which should begin construction at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory very soon; its flight components such as the cruise stage are already being assembled) will leave the Earth to follow in the wheel tracks of its Gale Crater-roaming brethren. Considering the complexity of landing a 1-ton nuclear-powered rover on the Red Planet, and how great it feels to watch this process flawlessly carried out in real time (somewhat; there's a 20+ minute delay in transmitting and receiving radio signals from Mars), I definitely want to be on-hand to see live footage of Curiosity's successor setting its wheels down onto the Red Planet in early 2021! That is all.

My participation certificate for the Mars Science Laboratory mission.

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