On Mars!!!

They did it. They DID it!

Less than half an hour ago, MSL “Curiosity” touched down safely on Mars, after what seemed to me like an absolutely flawless entry, descent and landing. When touchdown was confirmed the control room absolutely *erupted* with joy, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I had tears running down my cheeks as I watched those incredible people laughing and cheering and hugging each other like crazy. Just fantastic!

And there was barely time for us all to catch our breath before a voice announced over the telecom that the first images were coming back! What???? So soon?? Yep, they were on their way –

– and suddenly there it was, on the screen, the very first image taken by Curiosity! Taken through a low resolution camera, through the protective cover on its lens, it was still clear enough to show one of the rover’s wheels, and small rocks scattered over the very, very flat surface…

Look at that! But better was to come. The first picture from a camera mounted on the *front* of the rover drew loud gasps from everyone in the control room…

Look at THAT!!! That’s the shadow of the rover being cast on the ground, being cast on the floor of Gale Crater!!! And I’m going to have a go at cleaning that up because that looks supiciously to me like the band of dark dust dunes on the horizon – and maybe even Mt Sharp poking up behind them, I’m not sure. If that’s true, then… well, wow, just wow…

HUGE congratulations to everyone on the MSL team. Just fantastic!

Right. Time to breathe, and get ready for the press conference that is due to begin any minute now.

I need coffee.

See? I TOLD you that “Skycrane” was a good idea, no need to worry at all… (cough cough)

UPDATE: ok, I used a Distort filter on those images to artificially straighten the horizon, and here’s what I got…

Calm down, calm down, that’s NOT Mt Sharp over there on the left’ that’s just a distortion created by the filter, it kind of wraps the image up at the sides to create a flat horizon. Having said that, if you look at the other image, with its horizon flattened…

Oooh… is that the bank of dark dust dunes over there on the horizon? And is that Mt Sharp rearing up behind and beyond them..? Very interesting. We may have landed a lot further towards the crater’s centre that hoped for. That will mean no visit to the aluvial fan at the north of the landing ellipse, but would cut down dramatically the travel time to the “good stuff”, the layers, in Gale’s heart.

More pictures are due back in a short while, so I’d keep checking back if I were you…

2 thoughts on “On Mars!!!

  1. Paul says:

    Spoken like a true Martian

  2. Chi Chi says:

    Very cool site header. Address looks like my mummy’s birthday.x

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