The time was set. Curiosity was hours away from landing on Mars. The museum was packed-this event was sold out!
The time was set. Curiosity was hours away from landing on Mars. The museum was packed-this event was sold out! A long line snaked out the door and continued well down the sidewalk, and as it slowly traveled inside, space enthusiasts talked about the upcoming historical event.
Later, as everyone filed into their seats, I realized that there weren’t only adults in attendance. Kids of all ages had shown up too! I was surprised how many people stayed up past midnight to witness Curiosity’s big night.
Dr. Steve Lee, curator of planetary science and chair of Space Sciences Department, gave an overall view of the night ahead. First up: a talk with engineers who had hands-on experience building the rover. Engineers such as Gaytri Amin, Richard Hund, and Scott Christansen gave us insight into the more technical part of everything from takeoff to landing. One of the most interesting things discussed was Opportunity, a second generation Mars rover who has outlasted its expected lifespan (90 days) by almost 30 times. Curiosity is expected to live up to two years on Mars.
Said Hund, "The stage of the landing when the Rover enters the Martian Atmosphere has been nicknamed 'Seven Minutes of Terror,' because there is no way to know exactly what will happen."
After a short break, and some more interviews with various technicians, it was time. Since there was no way to actually watch Curiosity land on Mars, the feed broadcasted NASA employees waiting with baited breath from Pasadena, California.
The tension in the air was so strong; it was almost like everyone was holding their breath, waiting for news. Suddenly, cheers erupted from California. The first part of the mission had gone right. More celebration as another stage went of smoothly. Everything was going perfectly! Finally, we received definite information. Curiosity had made a flawless landing, and was now on the Red Planet, Mars, and we had just witnessed history.