Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mars Curiosity Landing Weekend


CheMin! #NASASocial! Camilla SDO! Mars Science Lab developers! Landing Party! Ames Expo! Mohawk Guy! Good Luck Peanuts! Wheels Down! Celebration!

It's all there. And more. In my Mars Curiosity Weekend Photograph Gallery... and a treasured picture album this will always be. Well, expect the part apart about being freezing cold, sitting outside in the wind until midnight, then sneezing my way through the press conference at the end.

Mars Curiosity Landing Weekend
#NASASocial & Ames Landing Party

Still, I wouldn't trade this experience for anything in the world... what a ride! Literally! What a drop! What a landing! And soon, when all the systems are tested, we will begin roving, photographing, sampling and analyzing.

Major shout-out to our Los Altos homeboy, David Blake. Having been featured in the hometown newspapers of late, we natives of the San Francisco Bay Area are all very proud of and happy for Blake, also featured recently on KQED Quest.

David Blake of NASA Ames Research Center
With David Blake in his lab

Blake spent 22 years perfecting the CheMin instruments, now safely landed on Mars. His devices should tell us all we need to know about conditions for life, and possible past life on the Red Planet!

Events at the NASA Ames Research Center included booths, toys, lectures, and NASA TV feeds on two giant screens at either of the parade grounds. It was cold. It was windy. It was nerve-wracking. However, I didn't see anyone bail. Everyone hung on until nearly midnight, watching the commentary, signals, landing and ensuing celebrations and tests. Unfortunately, it was too dark to take pictures by the time we had something to celebrate... so it was hard to "see" all the jubilation, but I will never forget the sound of it!

Full-size Rover MSL
At the Ames Expo booths prior to evening landing

Many folks at all the 6 NASA Socials and major Landing Parties at JPL, Ames, KSC, JSC, Goddard, Glen and Langley met tons of designers, engineers, builders, testers, drivers, mission controllers and launch crew who sent to her to Mars. Seems like just about all these chaps have groupies and disciples now, particularly if they are busy on Twitter, where they accrued thousands of followers almost overnight! So far, my favorite is Master of Mars, Adam Steltzner.

Flight Controller Bobak Ferdowsi
Mohawk Guy!

All the attention must be blowing their minds! But wow, I don't think anyone is more shocked than poor Flight Director Bobak Ferdowsi. He must think he is in the Twilight Zone, or something. Really, even after all the style variables on the native American warrior 'do in the 1980s, basic mohawk haircuts can still cause this much of a ruckus?! I picture people stopping him in the grocery store now, "Hey, you're Mohawk Man from NASA TV." Surreal.

Ah well, enjoy it while you can. This is the moment for everyone who worked on MSL over the years, at every NASA center, to shine! Click on any of the pictures above, or click here to see the entire MSL Landing Weekend gallery over at Pillownaut Picasa.