Tag: David Shukman

Compelled by curiosity

Wonderful news and a fabulous achievement!

I’m writing this as 5.40 am on the 6th.  I let our ‘bedroom’ dogs out for their early-morning pee some 20 minutes ago and then jumped back in bed, turned on my Kindle and went to the BBC News website.  There I read,

Nasa’s Curiosity rover successfully lands on Mars

The US space agency has just landed a huge new robot rover on Mars.

The one-tonne vehicle, known as Curiosity, was reported to have landed in a deep crater near the planet’s equator at 06:32 BST (05:32 GMT).

It will now embark on a mission of at least two years to look for evidence that Mars may once have supported life.

A signal confirming the rover was on the ground safely was relayed to Earth via Nasa’s Odyssey satellite, which is in orbit around the Red Planet.

The success was greeted with a roar of approval here at mission control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

As David Shukman, Science Editor of the BBC, wrote,

The day I watched Curiosity being built in a clean room at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena last year, the rover’s six wheels were lying on one work bench while the chassis stood on another and it was hard to believe the white-suited engineers could make sense of the maze of tubes and cabling.

But what they’ve created now stands on the red soil of Mars – and it’s in one piece. In the hallway of a JPL building we were shown a full-size replica. Walking around it made me realise something difficult to grasp from the pictures and video: this is a beast of a machine, a kind of cosmic Humvee with instruments instead of weapons.

Sometimes Nasa public relations can appear bragging. Today it feels justified. Curiosity is all set to discover something remarkable about our strangest neighbour.

Well said and people from all around the world will echo those sentiments.

When I read what Patrice wrote in my Setting the scene post not so many hours ago,

Well, OK, keeping my fingers, and even my arms, crossed here. Seems to me the “sky crane” is over-complex, and I was not reassured when one of the physicist-engineers boasted that they had run the landing millions of time on simulator. Yeap, OK, how many times for real in Earth’s gravity?
I don’t see why they could not have landed normally, LEM style. Especially as they have wheels and could have rolled away to find undistrubed land.
There are no back-ups…
OK, let’s hope I’m wrong to be suspicious…

I instinctively agreed and hoped his worries were misplaced.  They were!  The Curiosity rover is down!  Good luck to the Rover and all those who made it possible.  Well done, the team!