The Mars expedition robot, Curiosity, equipped with considerably more tech and equipment than its Mars rover predecessors, made its landing on the surface of Mars last Sunday 5th August 2012 , unscathed. The internet completely erupted in cries of jubilation and the celebration of science. The almost universal cheering-on of NASA and its employees was a joy to behold for anyone who is passionate about exploring beyond Earth.
Whether you were knee-deep in a late-night game of partypoker, asleep, cooking, at work… so many people tuned in to watch, either on TV or online, and for a while people even stopped discussing the Olympics to focus on the merits of science and what it results in (Mars robots). But will they keep calling for NASA funding, and criticising the US government’s spending on the military versus its funding of its space exploration program?
It’s not clear how long the uproar and support of science will last, but it is likely that we’ve got a long period of fascinating images and other data to pour over as Curiosity sends what it’s taking in back to NASA. This is a big step for our exploration of our solar system, and having a machine on Mars that is considerably more advanced and well-equipped than the previous ones means more data and a better understanding of the Red Planet.
If you’ve not seen the landing video, it’s probably worth looking up, given that you’ll understand what people keep quoting and talking about. Science rarely has good press in the way that it has whenever something heads off into space, so it’s worth doing your part and keeping the cheering going.
All that remains to be seen is whether or not they’ll find life, an ecosystem capable of supporting it, or any other data that could finally show us what organisms lie beyond our world. What an exciting time to be alive.