The Mars Curiosity has landed—a phenomenal success that completes an incredible journey against all odds. NASA still has the chops to make interplanetary magic happen.
I will keep updating this post through the night.
Comments on reverse chronological order. Local Pacific Coast time.
1:20 — I just saw the third picture, which may be showing the rim of the Gale crater and one wheel. Going to sleep for a bit. Lots more tomorrow!
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12:14 — Conference is finished. We are waiting for new images and data, as the Odyssey orbiter makes another pass in a few minutes. Odyssey will relay data from Curiosity to JPL's Mission Control.
12:12 — Theisinger talking about the science ahead and how long the project would be. He says that they "are not in a hurry." They will take their time to make sure that everything is ok and then start exploring, at a slow place. They don't want to risk anything after this success.
12:07 — New images coming in 25 minutes, as the orbiter passes over Curiosity.
12:03 — John Grunsfeld is talking about his inspiration: the Gemini program and Apollo. By the way, Xeni Jardin told me earlier that today is Neil Armstrong's birthday (and her birthday too! Say happy birthday to Xeni on Twitter! And Neil too!)
12:00 — Adam Steltzner says that they don't know exactly where they are yet.
Here's an anecdote that our friend Mark Rober—one of the engineers who spent seven years of his life on this project and others at JPL—told me about the landing site:
We have a print out of the area where Curiosity could land, and each of us has made a bet about the exact place.
I will show this to you tomorrow.
11:58 — Richard Cook talking about international cooperation (he especially mentioned the Spanish and the antenna. YAY SPAIN! ZERO GOLD MEDALS BUT ANTENAS COJONUDAS!)
11:57 — Some French dude asking stupid questions now. Shut up, French guy.
11:52 — He's now talking about what I said before: all the money spent on Mars Curiosity was spent in this planet, in this country. It went back to the economy, it wasn't put into a bag and sent to Mars. This money will advance the USA, humanity as a whole and it's still down here, getting spent.
Talking about spending money: can someone bring me an In-n-Out burger animal style? Thanks!
11:50 — John Grotzinger—the project scientist—is talking now, thanking all the engineers who worked so hard to put this mobile lab on Mars.
11:46 — There's a crowd of engineers out in the patio chanting.
11:45 — Adam Steltzner—the EDL team leader, a rocker who looks like a mix between Johnny Cash and Elvis—is getting really emotional now. He looks so old school. This guy is amazing.
11:42 — Richard Cook—Flight Systems Manager Mars Exploration Rover Project—is talking now: "THAT ROCKED!"
11:41 — Theisinger—the director of the Engineering and Science Directorate at JPL—is congratulating the Curiosity team and getting a bit emotional now. I don't blame him. The atmosphere is charged.
11:39 — "Curiosity story is just beginning." True.
11:38 — "The rover is made in the USA!"
11:37 — One of the JPL scientists—I think it was John Grunsfeld—talking now and said something great:
This movie has costed less than $7 per American citizen, and look all the excitement it brought.
Absolutely right. And it's not only the movie, it's about the two years of discovery ahead of us, which will unveil amazing information for sure.
11:22 — Overheard by some of the top level mission people: "Rep. xxxxxxxxxxxx just called to congratulate us. He stayed up to watch it all and he was excited. This success will make other politicians step up."
11:21 — Charles Bolden is talking now in the auditorium.
11:13 — Check the first image here. I'm uploading video of all the senior engineers celebrating and chatting next to me in a few minutes.
10:51 — I'm having a Snickers bar with Jalopnik's Jason Torchinsky, who is live blogging next to me.
I know, it should be a Mars bar. But Mars bars suck donkey balls.
10:41 — Needless to say, everyone is happy here.
10:39 — TOTAL SUCCESS BY NASA. These guys are moving all of humanity forward, developing incredible technologies that will affect us all. More importantly, this mission may finally solve the mystery of the life in Mars, further advancing our understanding of the Universe and our place in it. If there's anything more important than that, I don't know what is.
In other words: ASK YOUR CONGRESSMEN FOR MORE MONEY FOR THESE PEOPLE.
10:38 — Another image coming in: the shadow of Curiosity on the surface of Mars. Things just can't go better than this. It's incredible.
10:36 — High resolution images are coming now. The wheel of the rover is safe on the surface of Mars. These engineers are true heroes.
10:35 — More images are coming in! What a relief. Oh my god. The emotion here is uncontrollable. I'm tearing up myself.
10:34 — FIRST IMAGE IS IN. We can see the ground and the wheel. Holy fuck!
10:33 — IMAGES ARE COMING DOWN! This has been a complete success. Data is strong!
10:32 — IT LANDED! IT LANDED!
10:31 — Getting teary now. This is too much. People here are extremely excited.
10:31 — The skycrane is flying! THE SKYCRANE IS FLYING! ALL SYSTEMS NOMINAL!
10:30 — Curiosity is slowing as expected. Thermal shield has been jettissoned!
I am going to end every phrase with a slammer now!
! < that's a slammer
10:29 — PARACHUTE DEPLOYED! WE ARE DECELERATING! Congratulations Douglas and parachute team!
10:28 — Vehicle is now at Mach 2. All going good. Heart beat tones keep coming in!
10:27 — Are you alive Curiosity? I imagine you down there, waiting patiently as we receive your signals, sent over the last seven minutes. You are good girl. Let's talk again soon.
10:26 — Connection is good. Data coming in! All good!
10:26 — Now we are going to get the heart beat tones, which will tell the control if all is going good.
10:25 — The spacecraft is getting into the atmosphere now. This means that, right now, the rover is on the surface of Mars! We just don't know if it's a pile of smoldering metal or if it's working and good.
10:24 — Curiosity has switched antennas as expected.
10:23 — FOUR MINUTES TO ENTRY.
10:20 — Space has started to feel the atmosphere. The thrusters are firing to put the capsule in the right position for entry.
I NEED PEANUTS (the people in Mission Control are having these now. It's a tradition). Some people here too. GIMME SOME PEANUTS, GODDAMNIT.
10:16 — Everything is going good. I hope I keep repeating this phrase a lot in the next seven minutes.
10:15 — CRUISE STAGE SEPARATION. And the crowd goes wild.
10:14 — Signal seems good. "Things are looking good"—they said. My keyboard, on the other hand, looks wet.
10:13 — Cruise stage separation happening in one minute. Sorry about the confusion before. I JUST GOT CONFUSED, OK?
Going out to scream. I need my pills.
10:11 — It's happening, people. "We have started venting". I'm referring to the spacecraft.
10:07 — Confirmed: Cruise stage—the part with the solar panels—has NOT been successfully jettisoned yet. People here started to scream (for something else).
10:06 — Everything is in position. All looks good so far except my veins. I'm transforming into the Hulk right now.
9:58 — The worst thing would be when the "tones"—as NASA calls the signals sent by the spacecraft during the re-entry—start to arrive to Earth. When the first tone arrives, signaling the entry into Mars' atmosphere, the rover would be already on the ground!. We wouldn't know its actual state until seven minutes later. Perhaps even more.
9:57 — Mars is getting huge right now. So far. See the difference from 9:36 to 9:54 in this animated GIF.
9:43 — I think I saw a guy about to pass out.
9:42 — Great, they are now playing Seven Minutes of Terror at full blast. As if we weren't fucking about to die out of pure nerves-induced hysteria right now. My blood pressure is making all my veins pop.
9:39 — 45 minutes from entry right now.
9:36 — Everything is working as expected so far. Mission Control is giving an update and all is fine.
The tension at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is heart-attack inducing right now. The excitement of the last few weeks has been replaced with pure nerves.
The engineers know that the die has been cast and they can't do anything but wait. In about an hour, we will know if their ingenious design is a success—or not.
Damn—I'm just watching everyone here and the adrenaline is getting out of my ears. Share the excitement with us in the comments!
Gizmodo is covering the Mars Curiosity rover live from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Check all the articles here.