Monday, May 26, 2008

The Phoenix has landed!

I found out about the Mars Lander a little late but was completely absorbed by it last night, watching NASA TV as the first pictures were transmitted after a $420 million, 422-million-mile, 10 month journey. They were broadcasting from the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena and it was just as interesting to me to see the atmosphere there as to see the Mars photos (it's the sociologist in me).

The tension was very high as the engineers waited and waited for the first photos to be transmitted and when they came on screen, the room erupted like the end of a Super Bowl game. I never saw so many men hugging. But it was such an achievement and after preparing for every worst case scenario, the whole EDL sequence happened perfectly, without a hitch.

Mars looks kind of what I expected it to look like but it is cool that these are actually photos taken from the surface of the planet. It will be interesting to see what they find out during the Lander's time of operation. See New York Times story for more detailed information.

Photos courtesy of NASA,JPL, Caltech, University of Arizona/Reuters.