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NASA TV feed of 10:31 pm PDT Curiosity landing (nasa.gov)
267 points by DavidSJ on Aug 6, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 94 comments

I was at JPL when this mission was first being planned. I actually sat in on a meeting where the sky crane was first being discussed. I remember thinking to myself at the time that there was no way that it would ever work. I'm very happy to say that I was wrong. Congrats to everyone on the MSL team!

Take a moment to consider what you're actually seeing here: a truly historic event.

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.)

I noticed on the NASA TV schedule that the "Public/Education Channels" have commentary, and that the "Media Channel" has a "Clean Feed with Mission Audio Only".

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.

The clean feed is awesome: it is quite funny how banal some of the talk between the engineers really is: people reading out trace logs, complaining about IT problems, asking each other how to open console windows they accidentally closed, asking people to email them estimates, state machine changes...

You don't get the cheering, though...

Curiosity is the rover for the Mars Science Laboratory, launched 11/26/2011.


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

One major thesis of MSL/Curiosity is that sample return missions are hard. Taking a jaunt over to Mars, collecting samples from various locations, then shipping them all back to Earth is not something we can accomplish right now - so Curiosity has been designed as the next best thing.

Take a look at the instruments section of that Wikipedia article. Curiosity is crammed with every sensor and analysis tool they could possibly fit.


There were about 240,000 concurrent users on the web feed at touchdown. But not a single TV news channel was covering the event live that I could find.

I'm not much of a sports fan. I have no "home team". Football doesn't even raise an eyebrow for me. I haven't even watched the Olympics.

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.

CNN was covering it live with interviews with scientists etc. Coverage continues, there is a press conference in a few minutes.

I think CNN covered it, but you're right, it would have been nice if it were on at least one major network.

cnn.com is, but they're just repeating the nasa feed unmodified.

Frankly that is better than any alternative they are really in a position to provide. I am sure it was hard for them to resist talking over it reading a bunch of tweets.

Be thankful.

They could have cutover to Ryan Seacrest interviewing a rock.

They missed out on some ratings gold, there.

ustream was showing an even higher number of 11.4m viewers

That is total views on the NASA ustream channel

That's total. Live concurrent viewers was around 240k.

The BadAstronomy folks have started a google hangout covering this event:

Some interesting discussion going on there now; highly recommended.

what's up with all the "what does it mean for the nation"? It's a huge step for the humanity, not only the US. And the actual rover is filled with instruments from all over the world. From wiki:

> 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

The US deserves massive, massive kudos for this mission, and space exploration in general.

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.

The US paid for the vast majority and are responsible for getting this to Mars. The crazy landing, and $2.5 billion at risk on a project with a 30% historic success rate, wase not shared. US total annual space spending is about $60 billion a year. The entire rest of the world combined is only about $22. The entire EU is under $6 billion.

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.

As much as anything, those guys were doing their bit to secure funding at a time when their budgets are under really huge pressure. A lot of that stuff is aimed at Senators who decide budgets. They respond well to this kind of thing. I wouldn't be surprised if Charles Bolden also has political ambitions, that was quite a 'statesman-like' speech he gave.

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.

NASA's budget is about 18B, not all of which is space related. Where does your other 42B come from?

The total 2010 US Space budget was $64.6B. The entire rest of the world combined spent only $22.5B. NASA's 2010 budget was $18.7B, 83% of the spending for the rest of the world. The Air Force Space Command is the remainder, they run many projects, including GPS.

Thanks for the info, but shouldn't we be comparing civilian space budgets? Obviously dual use projects like GPS should be included but most of that 40B+ is purely military in nature.

It would be almost impossible to get a reliable estimate for other countries, most do not have separate civilian and military space programs like the US. For example, the ESA is building Galileo, a positioning system similar to GPS, primarily for strategic military needs. The Russians and the Chinese, who make up almost the entire remainder of global space spending after the EU, spend quite a bit on military space, but there is not reliable data. In fact, there is basically no data on Chinese spending at all, it's an industry estimate of their spending based on outside observations. In addition, there is some crossover each way. Hubble, in particular, received substantial benefit from military research into spy satellites, not to mention the recent gift of two space telescopes to NASA from NRO. At best it's unclear how to decouple the spending in the US, and nearly impossible internationally. I believe going with the totals is fair, as the approximate civilian to military ratio would be pretty close internationally, given the obvious military implications of space, like ICBM's and spying, the interchangeable nature of the fundamental research in each field (e.g. ICBM guidance systems research can be applied to landing on Mars, spy satellites are space telescopes if you turn them around), and the countries involved.

I see a company called Euroconsult publishes estimates of governmental space expenditures. Unfortunately it costs over 4000 euro! But a summery is available here:


I think the difference here is pretty clear: If you want the best instruments you should look around internationally. There is so much diversity there, so much specialities, that you will always be able to find some places in the world that are exceptionally good at building them besides just the US.

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.

> 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:


Edit: typo.

OK, but it's a pretty big deal for the U.S. Those are great contributions by other nations. However, if Canada had decided to produce an Alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer, it's not as if NASA would not have been able to make this possible. The same can probably said for every other component. This doesn't diminish any of their contributions and they should all be proud but I don't think we should downplay what this means for the U.S. and simply say "Aw shucks, this is humanity." As well, all of those involved in the press conference I saw acknowledged their international partners.

I can safely say that I HATE a lot of the American agenda especially when it comes to foreign policy, but in this case I would only hope that American tax payers felt at least a shred of pride and sense of ownership in this amazing accomplishment if it had any influence in swaying the American government from their current investments and back to incredible projects like this.

"We are safe on Mars."

Humanity rocks sometimes.

It seems like every single person at JPL is teary eyed, this is awesome.

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.'

They're already getting pictures. I wasn't born for the moon landing, but this seems almost as cool. Must have been something like this.

The images are a lot clearer this time around :-)

What a beautiful moment. That team has a lot to be proud of.

Just seeing the complexity of the various descent stages boggles the mind: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/ce/20090428M.... Amazing they got it to work perfectly.

This video is an animation (created by the JPL) of what is going to be happening over the coming few hours: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4boyXQuUIw

3 hours ago they were at 300k total views, ever. Now, it's about to hit 1M total views.

This is a great chance for NasaTV to advocate for more funding. /just saying

Now, one hour later, they're at 11M views with 120K live viewers. This is good TV.

Wow! They made it... Great stuff happening and what a technological challenge! Edit: even more impressive that they are already receiving some pictures

I don't think it's an overstatement to say that this is one greatest expressions humanity is capable off. Simply amazing.

Is there anything left to be done by NASA HQ? For example, are they still controlling the trajectory of the probe to Mars or is that mostly done by probe's onboard computers?

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.

From a Reuters piece...

"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 )

Plenty to do, since monitoring and understanding all of the incoming data is most of what operations is, but in this case, no commands were sent while the stream was live.

If they pull this off I will be thoroughly impressed.

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?

They tested it as much as they could. You can't simulate Martian gravity and the full Martian atmosphere on Earth.

To see the images from Mars:


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

Well that's disappointing, CloudFront:


    The request could not be satisfied.

    Generated Mon, 06 Aug 2012 05:59:11 GMT by cloudfront (CloudFront)

That's the second time in recent memory that I got chills watching a room full of really smart people erupt into applause. Congrats to everyone involved.

Is there any way to watch in VLC? I don't have Flash Player.

http://nasa-f.akamaihd.net/public_h264_700@54826 should work in any H.264 + HTTP capable video player.

Definitely much nicer than the solution I found. How did you find that so easily?

I have Flash handy, so I just utilized the Resources tab in Chrome's Web Inspector to see the video resource Flash was actually streaming.

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).

Interesting, I tried doing the same thing and couldn't since it was getting it over rtmp from another cdn, which was how i found mine. Apparently NASA has more CDNs for video than others that i've run into.

That didn't work for me in VLC on Windows 7, but this does: http://nasa-f.akamaihd.net/public_h264_700@54826?v=1.1.12...

Confirmed working in VLC 2.0, many thanks.

Also works in MPlayerX, as an added bonus it appears to be using hardware decode which it wasn't via flash (MB Air 2012).

Not sure if it still works (installing VLC to find out), but try this


EDIT: with rtmpdump and mplayer it can be done with the following apparently[1]

  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 -
[1] http://stream-recorder.com/forum/play-watch-view-nasa-tv-hd-...;

holyshit, reddit works in https?

If this is successful, do you guys think we'll see a man on mars in the next 20-40 years?

Elon Musk will be there waiting to greet the astronauts if it takes NASA 40 years.

Usain Bolt of the space race.

Most of the research to be made on extraterrestrial colonization can be done in the Moon for much cheaper.

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.

A man or mars has nothing to do with whether or not this is successful.

One of us watching this right now is going to set foot on Mars. Probably more than one.

For people that missed the event on the livestream, how can we rewatch this?

The free NASA TV channel on Roku is carrying this as well.

I am so happy to have been watching this historic event! I cannot believe that there were no network affiliates carrying the EDL live from JPL. I watched it happily on Ustream, but I'm upset about it. I tried to check NBC up to 18 minutes prior, and they weren't even showing an olympic event. They showed some taped interview with a British rowing medalist from 20 years ago. If the whole thing is on tape delay anyway, what is their excuse? What if I'm not someone who has a computer connected to their television and only had a TV? Every American should have been able to see this live. This is the greatest feat of engineering in history!!!

A word that is overused but truly applicable to this landing / 7min of terror.


Got my peanuts. Good luck, Curiosity.

For those who missed it, here's a VOD: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/24512027

Landing starts at about 19:00 minutes.

This is amazing. I can just imagine the anxiety and excitement of waiting for Odyssey to fly around for another pass and transmit more data back home.

Earth wins another round of expensive hardware lobbing! Here's a humorous reminder at how difficult it is to reach other planets, especially Mars - too bad it hasn't been updated in a while.


One thing they mentioned is that one advantage to the sky hook is that it will be a soft landing - no dust will go everywhere and land on delicate instruments.

Isn't this easily solvable with some sort of skin it can just dispose of once the dust has settled?

They do have covers on the lenses that will be removed, but I don't think it would be practical to put removable covers everywhere. What would happen if the 'skin' didn't come off?

Look at this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ij33yhdGn_g

it's about the landing of the spirit rover. You can see the same people that were in the room today talking about it!

If you look at the images, it seems like they use linux as their OS? Can anyone else confirm?

A little late and I don't work there but I know I've seen at least Sun gear/monitors at JPL and Houston.

Well, congratulations are in order I guess. Touchdown confirmed. :)

Images arriving now.. Would like to be part of the next trip ;o)

Why can't they ever take just one horizon photo of the scenery in front of the rover instead of the typical, "looking at the ground" photos that are common with these rovers? That would have been a far better shot to show live.

They did. Front and back.

Oh, do you have a link to those photos? I must have missed them. Thanks!

Just landed..."lets see where Curiosity takes us"

I recognize one of those guys from college! w00t

Congrats on successfully landing!

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