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Update August 24, 2012 @ 9:30 AM

In Tribute to American STEM Education!

Cheers and Tears of Joy and Jubilation!

Mars Science Laboratory "Curiosity" Rover Has Landed!
Sunday, August 5, 2012, 10:32 PM Pacific Time

A truly unbelievable, stunning and spectacular landing on Mars, precisely as designed and planned, landing exactly on target in Gale Crater at the planned touch-down time.  Everything worked flawlessly!  Pure perfection!  Another superior JPL success!

Click on the photos below for larger images

New 360-degree Virtual Reality view of Mars from Curiosity.
Click on image above to open VR web page.  Then, click and drag your
mouse pointer slowly over the image from side to side, up and down.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter sees Curiosity parachuting to the Martian surface

First images from the front and rear HazCams


Triumphant NASA and JPL Leaders


High-Five's during post-landing briefing


Jubilation erupts in JPL Mission Control


Before Landing
Clara Ma at a public NASA "social"


After Landing
Tears of joy with Clara's family

HD Video: 8/24/12 Curiosity Gets Busy - Zapping, Rolling and Robotic Arm Deploy  2:09

HD Music Video:  We're NASA and We Know It (Mars Curiosity)  2:48  A cute view of excited pride in JPL's success

Video:  Martian Mega Rover  44:58  National Geographic    Excellent post-landing overview!

HD Video:  Where Were You When Curiosity Landed on Mars?  3:39   Relive exciting landing events around the U.S.

HD Video:  Curiosity Has Landed!  2:31   View of the exciting climax in JPL Mission Control

HD Video:  First JPL News Briefing at 11:15 PM  56:40 

HD Video:  Landing Event Summary  1:35   National Geographic

HD Video:  Curiosity Bids Goodbye to the Heat Shield  0:51

HD Video:  CSI Mars - Zooming in on Curiosity's Landing Position  1:06

Landing Animation 

Curiosity On-Surface Images:  NASA  /  MSL Website

In closing ...
JPL has triumphed over overwhelming challenges.
America is the winner!


Pre-Landing Overview

Mars Science Laboratory "Curiosity" Landing on Mars
Sunday, August 5, 2012, 10:31 PM Pacific Time (Earth signal receipt time)

Final Pre-Landing Status Update Video:  Mission Update from JPL August 5th  1 hour

Cool Virtual Reality Panorama of Mission Control at JPL

Watch the landing live on NASA TV
JPL MSL Landing Viewing and Mission Resources
MSL on Facebook  /  MSL on Twitter

Click on the photos below for larger images

NASA "Eyes on the Solar System" MSL EDL Real-Time Simulation

 MSL EDL Internet Real-Time Simulation

An outstanding new on-line tool for visualizing MSL's Entry-Descent-and-Landing in real-time as it is happening.  There are custom viewing controls you can adjust for different views, timing, zoom, spacecraft positioning, etc.  You can even simulate MSL's view of Mars right now as it approaches the Red Planet.  Test it out now to become familiar with it so you are ready to use it during the landing.  Fascinating!  Enjoy!

When you open the URL for the first time, a java applet will be installed.  The next time you open it, it will be faster because everything will already be loaded.  For best performance do not have other programs running and have at least 1 GB available.  Do NOT use the "Classic" version of "Eyes"--ignore that link on the opening page.  The Java routine works fine on my PC Windows 7 laptop and Mac laptop running Snow Leopard.  This program uses star fields from the Hipparchos catalog and the best Mars surface images from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's Hi-Rise camera.

Here is a phenomenal opportunity for adults and children to "stay up past your bedtime".  This will be a fleeting and highly unique once-in-a-lifetime chance to witness history in the making as it occurs over hundreds of millions of miles from Earth.  So far away, yet so very personally close to home as millions of space exploration fans on our "Pale-Blue-Dot" of Earth hold their breath in energized anticipation. And, some people, especially those at NASA's & Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, may even feel sick as their nerves get the best of them.

Something fantastic, literally "out of this world", is scheduled to occur at 10:31 PM Pacific Time on Sunday, August 5th. Something that has never before been attempted by mankind.  Something that will be celebrated in hundreds of public and private events around the world, attracting people of all ages, races and nationalities who know how exciting and important this event is for mankind, and certainly for America.  America's robotic program of solar system exploration is now squarely on stage in the bright lights for a daring and scary performance that nobody has ever experienced on our planet.  This is "pushing the envelope" in dramatic style!

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory will be the focal point of millions of people around the globe as America's newest, biggest and most complicated robotic Mars rover "Curiosity" will make a one-time-only attempt to land on the surface of Mars under sky-crane rocket power, which has never been attempted before by any spacecraft.  This is a monumental moment in human's never-ending quest to learn more about ourselves and whether there is supportive conditions beyond Earth for life today, in the past, or in the future.

This is a HUMONGOUS moment for NASA and JPL.  I am nervous now just thinking about it, but also very proud as an American that we are attempting this truly daring and scary feat when you understand the immense complexity of this spacecraft and how everything has to work perfectly, totally in automatic mode with no help from Earth, to make a safe landing.

The Mars Science Laboratory "Curiosity" spacecraft has been speeding toward Mars since November 26, 2011, when it launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard a powerful Atlas V launch vehicle.  With the Curiosity rover weighing 2,000 pounds, five times heavier than the Mars Exploration Rover's "Spirit" and "Opportunity", the size of a Mini-Cooper automobile, it cannot land using the inflated-air-bag concept that Spirit and Opportunity used. As a result, JPL's genius engineers and scientists have created a spacecraft that will, for the first-time ever, land under "sky-crane" rocket power.

Curiosity at Cape Canaveral


Launch November 26, 2011

Curiosity, tucked inside its aeroshell cocoon during its 8.5-month trip to Mars, will plunge into Mars' atmosphere during the Entry-Descent-and-Landing (EDL) phase at a screaming 13,000 miles per hour, beginning the famous "Seven Minutes of Terror" as the spacecraft burns through the atmosphere, deploys a huge parachute to slow its decent, opens the aeroshell with the heatshield separating from the backshell, releasing the sky-crane under rocket power and lowers Curiosity on tiny cables to softly touch down on the Martian surface.  From 13,000 mph to soft touchdown in 7 minutes!

Another first-time-ever aspect of the Mars Science Laboratory mission is that during Entry-Descent-and-Landing the aeroshell, having Curiosity inside,  will actually "fly itself" through the atmosphere, automatically adjusting its positioning using a system of small weights that are jettisoned at times during EDL to change its angle of approach.  This will permit the aeroshell to properly approach Gale Crater. 

Curiosity inside its aeroshell


Sky crane landing

Curiosity was named by a 6th grade student in 2009 from Sunflower Elementary School in Lenexa, Kansas, Clara Ma, age 12.  She won a nationwide essay contest and was the guest of the Disney Corporation, with family members, in visiting JPL while Curiosity was under construction.  Clara donned a white clean-suit covering her entire body, head to toe, to enter JPL's clean room to place her signature on the Curiosity spacecraft.  She attended Curiosity's launch.  Her heart, mind and soul are on board Curiosity.

Clara Ma in 2009


Clara signing Curiosity

Fingers crossed, once Curiosity is safely on the ground, landing in Gale Crater, and the sky-crane has detached itself from Curiosity and flown off to crash over a thousand feet away, Curiosity will spend at least two Earth years, hopefully more, exploring the Martian surface under nuclear power, searching for the signs of chemical habitability for life, attempting to determine if life could have existed, or might exist today, in microbial form buried below ground.

Gale Crater 96-miles across


Curiosity's laser ChemCam at work

This will be a fantastic moment for mankind in its quest to learn more about ourselves, our tiny solar system, huge Milky Way Galaxy, and our unbelievably vast grand Universe.  It also squarely demonstrates America's continued pursuit of incredible technical achievements in support of mankind and our future survival.  This is one of the premier reasons for the absolutely vital and critical importance of rigorous and robust STEM education for all Americans, beginning powerfully in early elementary school.  This mission is the very essence of superior STEM education and capabilities.

Curiosity undergoing testing at JPL


Curiosity tucked inside its aeroshell

So, with that introduction, prepare yourself, family and friends for the August 5th landing and enjoy the information viewed via the links below to video and explanations of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity mission.

NASA Spaceflight  Mars Science Laboratory Launch and Mission Info

Spaceflight 101 MSL Landing Special   Mission overview and details.  Excellent information.

NASA Prepares to Launch Curiosity   Excellent overview article by The Atlantic having many great photos

JPL's Deep Space Network Radio Telescopes in Australia will Relay MSL's First Landing Communications
And, the famous Parkes radio telescope in Australia will be the back-up communication site

MSL Home  /  Multimedia  /  MMRTG Power  /  Newsroom - Press Kits & Fact Sheets

NASA Mars Science Laboratory Multimedia 

HD Video:  The Grand Entrance  two versions by Wil Wheaton 4:07 and  William Shatner 4:12

HD Video:  MSL Launch  4:00

HD Video:  "Seven Minutes of Terror: Curiosity Rover's Risky Mars Landing"   5:07

HD Video:  MSL: The Challenges of Getting to Mars   Part 1  4:24  /  Part 2  4:21

HD Video:  MSL Aeroshell Construction  4:26

HD Animation:  MSL Cruise, Entry, Descent, Landing and Surface Operations  11:20

HD Video:  What is SAM?  2:09    Sample Analysis at Mars

HD Video:  SAM  4:30 

HD Video:  MSL Landing Site: Gale Crater  2:37

HD Video:  ChemCam Testing  4:41

HD Video:  What Sets Curiosity Apart from other Mars Rovers?  13:35

HD Video:  Transporting a Mars Rover to Kennedy  Space Center  5:39

HD Video:  MSL Instruments Explained in Detail  19:10

HD Video:  Communicating with MSL  2:30

HD Video:  MSL MMRTG (Nuclear) Power System  2:40

In-Depth Video:  MSL Mission Engineering Overview  56 min  /  August 2nd panel presentation by mission experts

In-Depth Video:  MSL Mission Science Overview  55 min  /  August 2nd panel presentation by mission experts

HD Video:  Full Curiosity Landing Practice  2:33   Showing JPL MSL Mission Control is action

HD Video:  NASA's Mars Rover Curiosity Ready for Historic Landing Tonight  13:01

HD Animation: Phoning Home - Communicating from Mars  2:30

HD Animation: How Hard Is It to Land Curiosity on Mars?  1:00

HD Video:  See Mars, Saturn and Spica Tonight just After Sunset  2:17

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Walter Reil, Atascadero, California
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