Okay everyone, it’s the first of August. You know what that means, right? It means CURIOSITY LANDS IN FOUR MORE DAYS!
Start your countdown clocks. This is big stuff. Space geeks have been waiting for this since we first saw the preliminary video last spring, and said “Holy Rube Goldberg machines, is this thing going to work??” We’ve been biting our fingernails since last November, when the first step—launching the Mars Science Laboratory capsule into space—went off without a hitch. That was a great sign, but then again, NASA has tons of experience with rockets, probes, and capsule separation. The landing on Mars is a whole different ballgame.
A few months back, NASA released this video explaining the head-explodey science involved in such a way that we could all understand it. Not only is it cool stuff, it’s also fun. In fact, it feels a bit like one of those blockbuster movie previews where the actors and director offer brief explanations and opinions in between segments of kablowie movie footage.
Cue it up and watch (it goes up to 720 HD), and then mark August 5, 22:31 PDT on your calendars. That’s August 6, 05:31 Greenwich Mean Time, for us folks in Europe, and 0:00 in Total Panic Time for all the scientists involved.
UPDATE: Due to my constant usage of the 24-hour clock here in Europe, I’ve forgotten that the US uses a 12-hour clock — and did not see the little “pm” jammed up against the listed landing time at the end of that video. The landing is not at 10:31, as it reads in 24-hour time — it’s at 10:31 PM, which is 12 hours later. Yikes! Big difference.
Due to this confusion, my original post listed the wrong time. It has been corrected. (Thanks to commenter b for pointing this out.) Also, remember that those of us on the left coast of Europe are in Western European Summer Time, which is GMT+1…so that gives us another hour of sleep before getting up to watch the event.