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August 6, 2012

The chances of anything coming from Earth are a million to one, he said.
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 02:52 AM * 64 comments

No one would have believed in the last orden of the jeddak of O-Daj that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences who would then drop a dune buggy on our heads.

I was asleep, but I followed it time-delayed on my Twitter stream. Pretty damn awesome.

Comments on The chances of anything coming from Earth are a million to one, he said.:
#1 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 03:28 AM:

Wheee !!! Almost as much fun a landing as the giant ball of airbags slamming into the ground and rolling that Mars Pathfinder used. Next time send crash test dummies!

#2 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 04:32 AM:

From "The Martian Chronicles":
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEMWtyAKRhQ

#3 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 05:36 AM:

Writing this post earwormed me with this.

You're welcome.

#4 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 05:48 AM:

Really, they could have used tripods, like civilised people.

#5 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 07:59 AM:

I was followed the live stream from the JPL control room. The JPL director was there for the whole time I watched (more than an hour), and so was the boss of NASA. There was whooping and high-fiving all over the room when they announced touchdown.

#6 ::: marc sobel ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 09:16 AM:

This must be a trap. After all the Martian Imperial Navy had destroyed several of these spy missions. This time, they intend to trap the "Rover" in rush hour traffic.

#7 ::: Sarah Ennals ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 09:26 AM:

I'm almost more amazed by how fast the internet has embraced Flight Director Bobak "Mohawk Guy" Ferdowsi -- I mean, within a few hours, there was fanart.

#8 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 09:42 AM:

The combination of livesteam and Twitter was perfect!

#9 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 11:17 AM:

The three of us (Jane, Soren, me) were watching sitcom DVDs until about four minutes before the landing, when I looked at my computer and saw a reference to it. (We'd forgotten the exact time.) I found a live feed, and we sat, tensely, watching and listening, and bouncing a bit every time the engineers cheered.

Jane went in for colon cancer surgery this morning. I'm so glad we didn't miss it.

#10 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 11:33 AM:

Our 8- and 6-year old whooped and danced with excitement while our toddler wandered through the room in befuddled amusement. My husband and I were glued to the live feed. What struck me (besides the way people were still busting out the whoops and hollers more than an hour after touchdown) was the lineup: a young woman next to a young white man with a high'n'tight that looked like 1960s cosplay next to a hairy old hippie, three people over from the office-haircut Asian guy who was five people back from somebody in a do-rag, all getting the job done. I missed the guy with the mohawk, though.

#11 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 11:35 AM:

Hoping for best outcome and healing for Jane.

It was lovely to hear (via NPR) the jubilation from JPL this morning. Go Curiosity!!

#12 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 11:55 AM:

Know what I liked best about the webcast of the Curiosity landing from JPL in CIT? The number of *women* in blue polo shirts and red lanyards.

#13 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 12:04 PM:

I thought I'd be watching alone while following along with the Twitter feed. My husband unexpectedly came home from out of town in the afternoon, and my son joined us when he saw that he could watch it on TV rather than on his computer. It was a lovely and exciting family moment.

The Spacecraft 3D app they showed earlier was pretty cool. My husband was only half-paying attention at that point, so he dashed over and rewound that part to figure out how they did it.

#14 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 12:09 PM:

I initially parsed the OP as reporting a particularly bizarre dream. It was unclear to me whether the twitter stream was occurring in-dream or not.

The reason the rover landed successfully is that the Martian underground reported back to Homeworld, "Guys! The humans are all watching in real-time! Abort mission!"

#15 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 12:20 PM:

"I missed the guy with the mohawk, though."

I think that's the do you categorized as "high-n-tight".

He wound up with a surprising percentage of the #MSL twitter commentary last night. Yes, we are a strange species.

#16 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 01:13 PM:

Watching the live stream at about 1:30am my time, my favorite moment was a line I heard somebody say in the background, through all the noise: "We are wheels down on Mars."

Yeah, I cried a little.

#17 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 01:26 PM:

Michael Weholt @16:

Yeah, I cried a little.

I wish I had been watching it holding Mike's hand. We both would have joined you.

He once said something to me about "when we're eighty, sitting in our wheelchairs, watching the Earth rise."

#18 ::: Nicholas ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 01:36 PM:

Amazingly, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter photographed the lander during descent.

#19 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 01:44 PM:

I was very, very glad that nothing went wrong: it would have been pretty sickening for everyone involved if one of the petty little technical mishaps that destroy spaceships had happened a minute before landing. (I slept through the landing—watching Andy Murray win the men's tennis gold medal was awfully nerve-wracking for me even when he was at championship point, and I couldn't take another dose of such excitement first thing in the British Summer Time morning).

#20 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 01:53 PM:

Here's the highlights reel, if anybody missed it.

#21 ::: Fox ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 02:29 PM:

Looks to me like "high-and-tight" is the guy sitting next to the young woman with long medium-brown hair; the guy who is beaming at about 7:00 in the video linked by Michael Wehold @20. The dude with the mohawk is this guy, Flight Director Bobak Ferdowski, @tweetsoutloud.

This thing is awesome. (In the literal sense - not like hot dogs or red and yellow socks.)

#22 ::: Fox and the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 02:30 PM:

That link was kosher, honest. (Also not like a hot dog.)

#23 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 02:51 PM:

Dear Curiosity,

Now that you're done with it, please return the rocket pack. I think that was the one I was promised.

#24 ::: Curiosity ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 02:55 PM:

Dear Bruce:

Get it yourself. I'm busy.

#25 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 03:12 PM:

Looking for ride to Gale Crater, will help with fuel costs.

Contact Spkr2Managers at twitter

#26 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 03:19 PM:

Hey! How come Curiosity answered Bruce's question 4 minutes after he asked it? Shouldn't it have been more like 14 minutes?

Curiosity, is this all a hoax? Are you on a sound stage somewhere? With former "moon rocks" all around you, recently painted red?

#27 ::: Curiosity ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 03:30 PM:

Oh. Um. It's kind of interplanetary telepathy thing. I'll explain later.

#28 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 03:44 PM:

28 minutes, for round-trip communication.

#29 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 03:51 PM:

Xopher @28:

You're right. I checked, and still got it wrong.

I blame Curiosity's mind-fuzzing telepathic rays.

#30 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 04:06 PM:

Immensely relieved. That rocket crane landing technique couldn't have been weirder if it involved Mentos and Diet Coke.

#31 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 04:55 PM:

One thing I realized last night was how much Twitter is my favorite of the various social media I'm using. Particularly the mass-tweeting-while-something-is-going-on aspect of it.

#32 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 05:13 PM:

I just hope there are no cats on Mars now that Curiosity has arrived.

#33 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 05:28 PM:

Cadbury Moose @32: If there are cats on Mars, I hope NASA is rushing the Satisfaction lander to completion....

#34 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 05:36 PM:

Mota reportedly fled for his life.

#35 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 06:05 PM:

They use bigger parachutes now, but the Soviet Union used to drop tanks by a system that combined parachutes with retro-rocket packs. Apparently the BMD-1 was dropped using the PRSM-915 system.

#36 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 06:19 PM:

It made me happy that it had worked. And the analytical intstruments suite is brilliant, they'll be able to get lots and lots of data if it all works properly.

And the 'Sky crane' method, that sounds familiar from somewhere. I know there was a helicopter by that name, but where else have I seen it? Who thought it up as an ideal method for landing on Mars?

Next time, a zeppelin?

#37 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 06:41 PM:

@Andrew Plotkin no. 15: No, this guy looked like he'd stepped out of the '50s, except he was wearing a polo shirt instead of a button-down and of course the headset was different. I would've remembered the mohawk with the gold star on the side! (Remember when people who looked like that were automatically suspicious characters, and a guard would've been following him around?)

#38 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 06:49 PM:

There's the Sikorsky Skycrane, which looks like a skeletal helicopter with a big winch.

#39 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 07:04 PM:

Jenny Islander @37: was it Adam Steltzner? He can be seen around 30secs into the video @20. (@steltzner on Twitter)

#40 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 07:18 PM:

From Twitter: "The nerds just took gold in the 560 billion metres."

#41 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 07:29 PM:

Okay, help me out here... at about 1:40 into the vid I posted (@20) the Asian Voice of Mission Control Guy (right in front of Adam Steltzner) CANNOT be saying "Standing by for vaginal separation", but I swear to gawd it sounds exactly like that to me.

What the heck is he REALLY saying???

I'd say this has become something of an ear worm to me, but, yeah, I probably shouldn't say that.

#42 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 07:33 PM:

I think it's batch something separation.

#43 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 07:42 PM:

Yeah, it could be "Standing by for batch all separation."

#44 ::: landondyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 08:15 PM:

@42, 43: I believe it's "back-shell separation". (This shows up in a number of web searches, btw).

#45 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 08:21 PM:

Ah! That has to be it. I know what the back shell is, and it would be about the right time in the landing sequence to separate it. Good work. Thanks.

#46 ::: charming quark ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 08:36 PM:

"GALE CRATER, I AM IN YOU." Dune buggies!

#47 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 08:46 PM:

The Martian government has sent an official protest demanding that Earth take back Curiosity forthwith. I believe that they are demanding someone named Romney be sent up in exchange, on the grounds that it's a more believable robot.

#48 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 08:56 PM:

47
Well, if they're willing to put up with a robot who does everything retroactively, they can have him.

#49 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 08:58 PM:

I really object to us trashing the surface of another planet with our toxic garbage. Bad enough that we've done it to our own world.

Therefore I'm against sending Romney to Mars.

#50 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 09:00 PM:

Fragano @ 47... Why? There was a Martian cat minding its own business on the spot of the landing site and Curiosity killed the cat?

#51 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 10:01 PM:

Serge Broom @50: Which is why we need to launch Satisfaction to bring him back.... {grin, duck, and run}

#52 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 10:20 PM:

There's a short stop-motion video of the descent - NASA had a camera running for the last few minutes. They expect to have a higher-res version available later on.

#53 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 11:50 PM:

abi @3: it's kind of silly to say that something was launched from Mars "At midnight, on the 12th of August", without specifying a time-zone. But hey -- at least we got close to the right date!

Haven't listened to that for a few years now (about 12, I think).

#54 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 12:35 AM:

#53: Midnight, British time! What other time is there? Damn colonial.

#55 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 02:25 AM:

Stefan Jones@54, the real question is "Midnight UTC vs. midnight Mars Local Time". Ignoring picky differences between GMT and UTC and whether you're on double daylight time or BST, if it's earth time it's British (or Zulu.)

I had one friend who worked on the Mars rovers, and IIRC he kept Mars time for a while.

#56 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 02:48 AM:

Did anyone else notice Wallace and Grommit in the background of that last hi-res image from Curiosity?

#57 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 05:25 AM:

Sky hooks!
That's what the landing bit reminded me of. Sounds about as mad as well, but this one worked.

#58 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 07:22 AM:

@50: It survived, but it's now a flat cat.

#59 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 09:48 AM:

Cassy B #51: NASA's spokesdroid has officially stated "I can't get no Satisfaction".

#61 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 10:53 AM:

Cassy B #51: NASA's spokesdroid has officially stated "I can't get no Satisfaction".

#62 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 02:33 PM:

The HIRISE camera aboard Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has snapped some wonderful shots.

Yesterday, we saw Curiosity and its parachute in mid-flight.

Today, Curiosity on the ground, surrounded by discarded parachute, heat shield, backshell, and skycrane.

#63 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2012, 11:51 PM:

I have a song about a dune buggy called Liet. Maybe I'll go back to playing it. I was thinking about doing that, yesterday.

#64 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2012, 11:54 PM:

I'm gnomed at 62. No link. Maybe because I linked to the https version of my Google+ page?

[Yes. I've removed that filter, because we get very little spam linking to G+ pages. -- Orels Rebuio, Duty Gnome

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