Sunday, August 05, 2012

Biggest ever Mars rover lands tonight

The Curiosity rover is set to land on Mars tonight at 10:17 p.m. PDT. The $2.5 billion mission took 8.5 months to get there. It will be the 7th successful landing, we hope, out of 15 attempts. Not great odds. More info at the official JPL site. Because it takes 14 minutes for data to span the distance between Mars and Earth, we will find out what happened at 10:31 p.m.

Watch it live on NASA's Ustream channel. Or here.

The rover is about 1 ton and is slightly bigger than a Mini Cooper. NASA is describing the descent to the surface as "seven minutes of terror" because of a multi-step process that brings it from the top of the atmosphere at 13,000 mph to 0 mph on the surface.

Two of our Mars satellites, Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter (MRO) and Mars Odyssey are going to be listening for Curiosty's descent and reporting back. says one of them may try to take a photo. Curiosity itself will report, if successful, with the signal taking 14 minutes to get here.

The video shows the descent, including the "sky crane", which is nuts. A lot of scientists are going to be up all night biting fingernails and mainlining coffee. Everyone's going to cry if this thing doesn't work.

So, that's what we're up to right now. Meanwhile, here's what the barbarians are doing:

-- The ethnic cleansing continues in Egypt. This, of course, is being ignored by the liberal press in America. An angry mob is burning down the homes of Christians and killing them in a small town south of Cairo. One hundred families are running for their lives. How's that Arab Spring, liberal nutjobs?

-- Our "ally" Pakistan is at it again. Police forced a man and woman to walk naked through town because they had sex outside of marriage.

-- Yet another honor killing in the West. A young woman was murdered by her parents in Great Britain because she wouldn't let them force her to marry a cousin. Guess what religion we're talking about?

-- Iran's president had this to say at his Ramadan speech: "Anyone who loves freedom and justice must strive for the annihilation of the Zionist regime in order to pave the way for world justice and freedom." Obama promised us that his approach to Iran would be dialogue. How's that working out? He just played his 104th round of golf in three and a half years, so maybe he's too busy to talk.

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