Friday, August 03, 2012

CBC: How to watch the Mars rover landing

Get info here from CBC about how to watch the landing of the Mars Science Laboratory's robot, Curiosity.  There are a bunch of options, and that CBC article contains a ton of links.  NASA coverage starts Sunday at 8:30pm PST, and the landing is two hours later.

Don't expect much awesome Mars imagery during this event.  Mostly it's going to be a bunch of tense mission specialists in front of screens at various NASA locations around the US alternately biting their nails, crossing their fingers, and knocking on wood.  Fully half of all missions to the surface of Mars have crashed.

In addition, round-trip light-time to and from Mars right now is about 28 minutes, so it's impossible for NASA to receive data from the spacecraft and respond with timely commands.  Re-entry is totally autonomous, and landing at Mars will take about seven minutes.  We'll hear about it at the speed of light--14 minutes later.

And then there will be great joy, or great sadness. 

And if there's great joy, it will be another number of hours before the rover powers up, checks its health, and starts returning pictures.

And then:  All eyes on Mars!

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