The Mission begins… (mine, not Curiosity’s )

The Background…

I’m not sure I was even aware of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission, until last week. I’d heard of Spirit and Opportunity, the little rovers that went up some years ago (although I had no idea the mission was eight years old and still roving…), but until the news broke I had no idea there was a car-sized mobile laboratory being delivered to the red planet.

All of a sudden my inner ten-year-old woke up and, like hundreds of thousands worldwide, I got my space geek on.

Mission research…

My first real contact was through this astonishing video which cuts between Jet Propulsion Laboratories mission control and an animated visualisation during EDL – Entry, Descent & Landing of the craft. I didn’t watch the live feed, though I’ve since gone back. It’s an amazing moment, rich with the very best of human endeavour and emotion.

Mission orders…

I was hooked. I started watching the hour long daily press briefings online and found them fascinating. Not just the science and engineering – which is incredible – but the personalities of the scientists and engineers themselves who speak for the mission and the huge team behind it. I hope to introduce some of these people and why they’re fascinating in the course of this blog…

Anyway, I was rabbiting on to my partner one evening about something that was said at a briefing, showing her images form the NASA app on my phone and wondering aloud how I was going to fit daily hour-long briefings into my life when she said:

“If you’re that interested, you should write a blog.”

A typically wise suggestion on many levels.

Mission parameters…

I’m not a scientist. I am, (appropriately enough I suppose), curious.

I don’t intend to analyse the technical and scientific information Curiosity imparts. There are many, manymany more qualified people doing that for you, some of whom sit in those briefings and ask questions.

What I’d like to do is share some of the moments that inspire, intrigue or make me laugh about this adventure, as I connect with it through the power of the web, and NASA’s generally excellent use of it. As they said in the control room, in a line intended – and worthy – to go down in history:

“Now let’s see where Curiosity takes us.”

JPL engineers get their first glimpse of this blog

JPL engineers get their first glimpse of this blog

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