Monday, August 06, 2012

“We’re safe on Mars” [and there was much rejoicing]

That’s what I heard right before all hell broke loose in the control room in the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology.

Curiosity had landed safely on Mars.

In the right hand picture you can see one of Curiosity’s legs safely planted on Martian soil.  These are a couple of the first pictures sent back from Curiosity, and seeing an intact leg made these rocket scientists very happy.

Another giant leap for mankind.

I remember when Neil Armstrong said those words, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”  I was only 9 years old and the whole family was focused on our old black-and-white console TV (remember those? the TV was the furniture, not on top of the furniture.)

This was a whole different experience.  Full color, live feed on my computer.  And I took screen shots of it happening, rather than having to wait until LIFE magazine came out.

It was every bit as exciting as I remember it being back in 1969.  I watched the live feed for a half hour before the actual landing, listening to them talk about the things that could go wrong.  Then Curiosity entered the Martian atmosphere and every time the said such-and-such “happened just like it was supposed to, everything looking good”, I relaxed.  A little bit.

And even when some disconnected voice said “We’re safe on Mars” I wasn’t totally convinced.  Until all those people got up and started hugging each other.

Then I knew Curiosity had really landed safely.  Congratulations once again to the people of NASA.


Lisa Shafer said...

Cute. It's good to see people so happy over something good. :D

darlin said...

This was amazing to watch, it's hard to fathom that they actually placed Curiosity on Mars, but with technology today who knows what's next.

I love your word choices: "the TV was the furniture, not on top of the furniture", and I remember those days. On a good day we could get CBC and CFRN, CBC would come in clear but the other one if the sky wasn't clear we got a snowy picture but we'd still watch a snowy movie. The good old days! :-)