Curiosity to land on Mars TONIGHT!

I plan to watch the live stream of the Curiosity landing tonight.


If you haven’t seen it yet, here is a video from the JPL about the terrifying landing stage:


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. MikeJ9919 says:

    Spirit and Opportunity used a combination of parachutes and giant airbags. Both landed successfully and far, far exceeded their expected operational life. Does anyone know why they didn’t just use this system again? Is Curiosity too heavy or something?

  2. New Sister says:

    Wow – no need to wait until tonight; the livestream going on now, of the control room and explanations by the engineers, is fascinating!

    Just heard a journalist ask one of the engineers, “if there is a crash landing, is there a risk of plutonium leaking out?” — the answer, “I doubt it; we tested the capsuls by shooting them out of canons at concrete walls and they didn’t break.” [not sure why we care if plutonium leaks out…]

  3. New Sister says:

    Correction: NASA refers to Curiosity in the feminine, “she”

  4. Rev. Michael Church says:

    I believe that Curiosity, at 2000 pounds, is indeed too heavy for the chutes-and-airbags system.

    Although I’m extremely excited about this, I likely won’t be watching it live — I’m hoping to be asleep by the time of the landing. But if not, then so.

  5. frjim4321 says:

    Yes it is the weight that requires a new landing system.

    Believe the landing is 10:31 pacific time and several hours for self diagnostics to run. I plan to get up around 5 and see what’s up.

  6. acardnal says:

    @NewSister: what is the url link ?

  7. tzard says:

    @New Sister asked: “not sure why we care if plutonium leaks out…”

    Good stewardship – we don’t want to unnecessarily pollute Mars, and Plutonium is nasty stuff.

    As for the streams, here’s one:
    with links to other streams.

    I’ll be watching – if everything goes according to plan, they should be able to know almost immediately if it succeeds in landing safely (because the odyssey orbiter would successfully relay the data). But that’s another “if” – (not crucial to the mission, but to checking the landing in real time). Odyssey is old and has been failing.

  8. cmcbocds says:

    Yes, I’ll be up watching NASA TV into the wee hours tonight! Fondly remember following the landings of both Spirit and Opportunity (bless their little pea pickin’ hearts) via the web, as well as all their tootling around on Mars. It just amazes me that we have a front row center seat to such things via the computer….

    acardnal: Was watching a JPL press conference on Curiosity earlier today on NASA TV at the link below and would think they would be streaming events there tonight, too.

  9. Should be interesting…though I really hope there aren’t any cats….

  10. Random Friar says:

    Leave no rover vehicle behind! Save Spirit!

  11. JohnE says:

    And miss replays of the handball matchups?! Well…..maybe.

  12. NobisQuoQue says:

    My understanding is that Curiosity is about the size of a small car (!), so the airbag method of landing wouldn’t work.

    Apparently there’s also only a 1 in 3 chance of a successful landing, so we’ll see how it goes. Here’s hoping….

  13. tzard says:


  14. Will D. says:

    Hot Dog! They totally stuck the landing. As noted in a previous post, the skycrane operation had me really worried, but it worked perfectly. I’m impressed.

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