Let the countdown begin!

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.


About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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17 Responses to Let the countdown begin!

  1. Paulo says:

    I’m watching it live at the OMSI planetarium in Portland. With beer.

    Whaddya got? :p

    • oregon expat says:

      [shuffles toe in dirt] I got nothin’. Other than watching it via the NASA app on my iPad, that is, with rum and tonic (and lots of ice, it’s August). But no planetarium and no crowd, dangit. That sounds like fun!

      …if it works. Otherwise, that could be a very bummed-out crowd. Celebrations are great with company, bumming is better done alone. 😉

      • Paulo says:

        True. Although a friend who’s going with me said “if it – Science forbid – crashes and burns it’s good to have the chance of getting very drunk at the bar”.

    • Paulo,
      You are a show-off! 😉
      We are watching it in our top of the world Algarvian Home Planetarium (aka AHP). The next day, alas, we have to leave, since ESA need it to observe deep space objects. 😛

      • Paulo says:

        Ah, the AHP…. so far from Mars, so close to the Algarve beaches… where the night sky can be so amazing.
        Don’t know where I would rather be, actually. Provided I wouldn’t have to drink Sagres or SB. Rum and tonic would do, though! Or some Alentejo white…

  2. Inge says:

    ohhhh.. geeky pitter patter.. *starts counting down*

  3. b says:

    In europe it will be dawn/morning at 05:31 UTC = GMT, 06:31 CET, not evening..

    • oregon expat says:

      Augh! Danged American 12-hour clock! I didn’t see that “pm,” which rather dramatically changes the time. The post is fixed now; thank you for clarifying. Whew.

  4. Inge says:

    Oh man, tomorrow morning when i get up i should be able to follow along.. so exciting.. *grin*

  5. Ana_ñ says:

    They’ve done it!!!
    😀 😀 😀

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