Science journalism

Curiosity lands on Mars today!

Mars Dust Storm (c) Mars Science Laboratory

UPDATE: Less than 100 minutes to go. 

Explanation:

If you didn’t know already, the latest information from Mars will soon be vending our way. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) and the  Mars Science Lab (MSL) team have sent out Curiosity the rover and it will land on Mars on Monday morning in 100 minutes. In a few hours time we may have the first pictures from the landing.

There will be “seven minutes of terror” according to the MSL team at NASA where they won’t be able to control it and it will be awhile before they even know whether it was successful. Several orbiting spacecraft such as the Odyssey will relay information and try to catch glimpses of the rover after the landing.

It’s landing in Gale Crater, apparently right where “Australia would be if Australia was on Mars”.

Humour: 
And in the funniest bit of news to come out of the press conference so far: one of the flight directors has a tradition of changing his hairstyle for each event and the team voted on what his one for the Mars Landing should be. It’s a mohawk with stars and stripes on the side. If anyone finds a picture of him with it, I will post it.

And this tweet showed up in my timeline causing me much mirth this Monday morning:

M McKenzie-Murray@feed_the_chooks

 

The Mars mission has sent its first picture back, cc: @liamoryanpic.twitter.com/erlMU0Mz

Media preview thumbnail

 

 

Fast facts:
Mission name: Mars Science Laboratory
Rover name: Curiosity rover
Size: About the size of a car — 10 feet long (not including the arm), 9 feet wide and 7 feet tall!
Weight: 900 kilograms (2,000 pounds)
Features: Geology lab, rocker-bogie suspension, rock-vaporizing laser and lots of cameras
Mission: To search areas of Mars for past or present conditions favorable for life, and conditions capable of preserving a record of life
Launch: Between Nov. 25–Dec. 18, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida
Arrival: August 2012 at Mars
Length of mission on Mars: The prime mission will last one Mars year or about 23 Earth months.
Mission Fact sheet: Download the PDF

WATCH the Livestream here:
http://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/mars/curiosity_news3.html

Explanation of EDL:
Meanwhile here is NASA’s infographic explanation of the EDL / Entry, Descent and Landing / “7 minutes of terror” on Visual.ly:

Curiosity - 7 Minutes of Terror

Browse more data visualizations.

 

Marisa is a globetrotting freelance writer, journalist and editor with cat for hire (her, not the cat). She is currently based in Melbourne.

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