This mission is so expensive, and has involved the figurative blood and tears of so many extremely talented people, that it will probably always be remembered in the history of space travel, whether or not the landing itself will be successful.
(It could be argued that the value of having so many millions of people watch or follow this (whether now or later), and have the associated mind-expanding thoughts and possible subsequent ideas or decisions, is itself worth the price of this mission.)
The link given is for the public stream (http://www.ustream.tv/nasahdtv); the media stream is here (http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-media-channel) and should be HD as well.
Purpose of the MSL is:
* Determine whether Mars could ever have supported life
* Study the climate of Mars
* Study the geology of Mars
* Plan for a human mission to Mars
Take a look at the instruments section of that Wikipedia article. Curiosity is crammed with every sensor and analysis tool they could possibly fit.
But I haven't sat down for the last hour. I paced like an animal and I've just finished jumping up and down, yelling like a mad-boy.
The whole thing was so hair-brained. Giant supersonic parachutes? Blast-away heat shields? Rocket Powered Sky Cranes? It was so damn Wile E. Coyote. And they totally nailed it. I'm awestruck.
They could have cutover to Ryan Seacrest interviewing a rock.
> ChemCam ... developed by the Los Alamos National Laboratory and French CESR
> Alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer ... APXS was developed by Canadian Space agency.
> Sample analysis at Mars ... was developed by Goddard Space flight center, the Laboratoire Inter-Universitaire des Systèmes Atmosphériques (LISA) (jointly operated by France's CNRS and some Parisian universities) and Honeybee Robotics, along with many additional external partners.
> Radiation assessment detector ... was developed by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and the extraterrestrial physics group at Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Germany
> Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons ... provided by the Russian Federal Space Agency
> Rover environmental monitoring station ... provided by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science
Granted, lots of other countries do excellent work, there's no doubt about that, but the commitment level is different by a huge margin.
Just take a look at what NASA is doing right this very second. They just landed a rover on Mars; they have 2 satellites around Mars; they have satellites around Saturn, Mercury, and Vesta; they have spacecraft on their way to Jupiter and Pluto; they have a planet hunting space telescope which has discovered hundreds of extra-solar planets already; they have Hubble; they have an X-ray telescope; they have a gamma-ray telescope which just recently provided potential confirmation on the origin and nature of dark matter. Oh, and they have another operational rover on Mars. And this isn't even everything, nor does it touch manned spaceflight.
The ESA has been doing some pretty amazing work in the past few years (with Mars Express, Huygens, Rosetta, Planck/Herschel, XMM, Cluster, SOHO, and their cooperation on NASA missions and others) and Japan and others have been doing good work as well, but the budgetary commitment as a percentage of GDP is just not comparable. We shouldn't take NASA's successes and say "oh, well, a bunch of other nations helped out some too, so, go world!" We should give NASA their due, and we should give other space agencies their due as well, and we should challenge the world to support space science missions to the level they deserve.
This is an American achievement. If you aren't from the US, you should try to encourage your government to step up. If everyone committed at US levels by GDP, annual global space spending would be about $240 billion instead of $82 billion. Biomedical research is the same way.
It also plays well to the people who don't know any better, the people who say 'why are we spending all this money on space when I can't get a job?'. You'll notice that the straighter and more senior heads - Pete Theisinger the PM, and John Grotzinger the chief scientist, did not go all Team America during the press conference, but did make similar points - 'The money isn't sent to Mars, it's spent here on Earth' - again speaking to the pressure that they're under.
However, if you actually want to get those things to the surface of Mars and let them do meaningful work, the best option is the US. ESA didn’t even manage a (successful) landing yet, Russia is failing constantly.
Not on Mars no (Beagle 2 was a bit anomalous, having a budget that would barely cover Nasa's stationary costs each year and wasn't secure until about half way through the project anyway. Very embarrassing from a PM point of view). But don't discount Huygens! That was pretty spectacular, especially given how much less we know about Titan.
Asside: I asked a few people who worked on the Huygens landing system why that worked so well but why ESA hasn't been able to recreate that success. They said, quick as a flash, project management. ESA used to PM their projects with a small, powerful project office. Now the sub a lot of the PM out to the big contractors, who seem to just do MS Word documents about how they can't deliver anything and it's someone else's fault.
You need good PMs (we all know this anyway right?). The MSL PM is also the MER (spirit and opportunity) PM, Pete Theisinger. He is a great man. There's a fantastic talk he gave a few years ago, that should delight anyone into ambitious and cool engineering projects, about the development of MER. You can see that he's the kind of guy you'd like to work for:
Humanity rocks sometimes.
Edit: The crowd at Planetary Society started chanting "USA! USA!" and Bill Nye the Science Guy quickly made them change it to "JPL! Planet Earth!" freaking awesome.
Edit #2: Every. Single. One. of NASA's websites is offline and overloaded. I know it's a DDoS due to everyone trying to look at the images, but this is really a good example of 'Hey, maybe the company that just landed a fucking spaceship on Mars needs more funding.'
This is a great chance for NasaTV to advocate for more funding. /just saying
I'm genuinely curious about what kind of things the HQ is doing right now. I've been watching the live stream and there's not much activity besides milling around screens and resizing windows on the huge screen.
"Mission control contemplated sending Curiosity one last "parameter update" on Sunday, hours before atmospheric entry, giving the vessel an exact fix on its position in space. But NASA engineers said they would likely forego that transmission because the vessel has varied so little from its ideal course.
Otherwise, controllers will have little to do but anxiously track Curiosity's progress as it flies into Mars' upper atmosphere..."
"We're all along for the ride," Seltzner said."
it is said, that 08:23:00 PM was the last time at which they could change the trajectory 'manually.' (So I assume, that they have just very good seats to watch the show in the HQ )
I keep googling to try to find where they tested the landing system altogether as a unit and there doesn't appear to be such an event, only individual components.
Can you imagine designing and testing the individual parts of a car, then assembling it and never testing the car as a whole unit and just hoping based on theory it works?
Edit: it appears that the page has moved to http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/raw/, discussion at http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4343891
The request could not be satisfied.
Generated Mon, 06 Aug 2012 05:59:11 GMT by cloudfront (CloudFront)
This approach works for a large percentage of CDN-based streaming video, which rarely has any unique authentication (as sharing any kind of per-user state with the CDN edges would be quite difficult).
with rtmpdump and mplayer it can be done with the following apparently
rtmpdump -r "rtmp://cp39920.live.edgefcs.net:1935/live" -a "live" -f "WIN 10,3,183,7" -W "http://cdn1.ustream.tv/swf/4/viewer.rsl.755.swf" -p "http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/ustream.html" -y "nasahd@55196" -o - -v | mplayer -
The terraforming of Mars is also controversial at this point, while we still want to make sure about possible past (or present) life in Mars, so we won't export bacteria to Mars any time soon. We are pretty sure the Moon is devoid of biological life so the first colonies would be placed there.
Honestly the only point of sending people to Mars now would be to say "first!" pretty much as it happened when we first landed in the Moon to not come back in many decades.
Landing starts at about 19:00 minutes.
Isn't this easily solvable with some sort of skin it can just dispose of once the dust has settled?
it's about the landing of the spirit rover. You can see the same people that were in the room today talking about it!