Heck Yeah! Mars!


Engineers are awesome. Now to get down to some serious science!


Edited: 6 Aug 2012, 2:08 a.m.


I'll second that! Watched it on my iphone on the way home from work. I remember patiently waiting for my dad to pass me the front page of the paper when the viking landers were doing there thing back in the 70's. This is so much cooler watching it in real time. Congrats to the Curiosity team!!



Good to see that Curiosity landed OK.

Congratulations to the team.


Long live to Curiosity and congratulations to all scientists, engineers and technicians who built this great success.

A en croire certains esprits bornés - c'est le qualificatif qui leur convient - , l'humanité serait renfermée dans un cercle de Popilius qu'elle ne saurait franchir, et condamnée à végéter sur ce globe sans jamais pouvoir s'élancer dans les espaces planétaires ! Il n'en est rien ! On va aller à la Lune, on ira aux planètes, on ira aux étoiles, comme on va aujourd'hui de Liverpool à New York, facilement, rapidement, sûrement,

Jules Verne "De la Terre à la Lune" (1865)

For french readers :

Edited: 6 Aug 2012, 3:40 a.m.


On va aller à la Lune, on ira aux planètes, on ira aux étoiles, comme on va aujourd'hui de Liverpool à New York, facilement, rapidement, sûrement,

Somehow I doubt even Jules Verne would have written that after 1905. :-)


Relativity doesn't have much to do with going to the (nearby) stars, and since the 1830s (which predates Verne's stories), we've known how far away at least some of them were.

I do agree, though, that he was being more than a bit optimistic about "rapidement"! The "facilement" part is also a tad optimistic.


How sweet it is!!! Wait until that probes finds an HP39gII on the Martian surface!!! That will come as a shock!

Two years ago I was flying back from Europe. I ran into an older gentlemen who was retired, while waiting for our luggage at JFK. He mentioned he was had a Phd in Systems Engineering, lived in Sedona, AZ, and that he used to work at JPL. He had worked on the two last Mars rovers and many of the special probes that NASA had sent to Saturn and Jupiter. I told him that his work, and that of his colleagues, was super awesome!



I stayed asleep to watch it at CNN. It was about 2:30AM here when the successful landing was confirmed. Really a great feat!
Now, what about announcing the new Curiosity Series HP calculators? :-)


I sixth that notion, awesome news to wake up to - especially with the elaborative way Curiosity landed.


There are still bets going on what will be found first.

My bet is on this:

(source: fineartamerica.com)


But that's in the wrong state! I bet you would find an empty one before you find a full one! ;-)

Makes me think way back, to before Mom threw out my stash, MAD Magazine's answer to the "Burma Shave" signs:

Empty beer cans on the road

are ugly, many say.

But at night, reflecting bright

They safely light the way!

Way to go, Curiosity! Way to go, NASA!


p.s.: Yes, I know "brightly" is the correct grammar. But "bright" is the correct quote.


Yes, I know "brightly" is the correct grammar. But "bright" is the correct quote.

According to Merriam-Webster and Shakespeare (who know English way better than I do :-), both forms are correct:


"O, none, unless this miracle have might,

That in black ink my love may still shine bright."

"A substitute shines brightly as a king

Until a king be by"



Cannot see the picture. Broken link? Image removed? I even tried copy-paste but NASA website returns "Oops! This page appears broken."

Any other link, though?


Luiz (Brazil)



Anything show up for you at this link?:



Thanks for the link Jeff. I had tried last night and this morning but wasn't getting a page loaded. Yours works.

Things like the Curiosity Mission to explore Mars are in a minority grouping to me: things that make me proud to be human. That it looks to be operating perfectly is just icing on the cake.


Hi, Jeff;

Thank you for your help. I still get this message:

Oops! This page appears broken. DNS Error - Server cannot be found.

Chances are there is a Domain Name Server in the chain that was not upgraded. Will try later.

Thanks again!

Luiz (Brazil)


Hi Luiz,

Same here:

"Ops! O Google Chrome não conseguiu localizar www.nasa.gov

Tente recarregar: www.­nasa.­gov"

IE cannot either.




HI, Gerson.

Google cannot locate NASA... What do we know!


Luiz (Brasil)


Hello Luiz,

Do we owe NASA any money? Has someone forgotten to pay the bills? :-)




SHSHSHSH! Quiet! Don't spread it... yet! Wait for our elections to be over...

Edited: 8 Aug 2012, 10:03 p.m.


Just wondering if any of the engineers used any hp calc in their calculation or is it all computer based now..


And here I thought it was just me...

Out of all my "social groupings", how was it I didn't think to check in here this morning for some company? :-)

Way to go JPL/NASA!


PS I was standing by with my HP-41CL *and* HP-15LE in case they needed any high speed computational backup (a la the movie "The Dish"), but looks like they had a handle on it :-)


You gotta be kidding!?! Just to be a little sentimental and nostalgic, I had a slide rule in each hand, no kidding!


And :

Video of the descent

Edited: 7 Aug 2012, 2:28 a.m.


With regard to video of the descent, has anyone heard of, or better yet, seen, any video (successive stills?) shot from the "sky cranes'" perspective? It would be interesting to see the top of the MSL (ie. Curiosity rover) being lowered as it was suspended by cables from the rocket-powered backpack to the surface. I imagine the video, if there was a camera there at all(?), would make your stomach a bit queasy, but would be useful for future missions to show how much (or little) control you can expect with a swinging payload below.

One other purpose for this video.. you could see how well it maneuvered as it sped away, and to capture it's crash landing (this assumes a "black box" would preserve the data through impact - for later transmission/retrieval).


Edited: 7 Aug 2012, 6:41 p.m.


[...]any video (successive stills?) shot from the "sky cranes'" perspective? [...], if there was a camera there at all(?),[...]

There was no camera on the "sky-crane". Who will invest millions $ in a camera crashing a few of seconds after Mars-landing ?

[...](this assumes a "black box" would preserve the data through impact - for later transmission/retrieval). [...]

Ha!Ha! And who is a volunteer to go to Mars to pick-up and carry this black-box back to Earth?

Edited: 8 Aug 2012, 4:08 a.m.


There was no camera on the "sky-crane".

Thanks. I hadn't heard that.

Who will invest millions $ in a camera crashing a few of seconds after Mars-landing ?

You're right, I can't imagine our money ever being *wasted*. Wouldn't happen. ;-)

Ha!Ha! And who is a volunteer to go to Mars to pick-up and carry this black-box back to Earth?

Touché. I didn't phrase that statement very well, did I? The line about capturing the crash landing and the black box stuff was an afterthought, and left a lot of room for interpretation. "Black-box" was a poor choice of words, but I was trying to convey a mental picture of device that protects information, and obviously "transmission/retrieval" could only occur via radio to the rover and/or the two orbitters.

The intent of my questions about a camera on the the sky crane, was that NASA/JPL said the technology provided them with many options they've never had before, namely that they could choose where they wanted to land, rather than being at the mercy of parachutes and/or (bouncing) balloons. Having said that, if the sky crane was that critical for lowering the rover to the surface, and because it was the first time being used, I can't imagine them not using every kind of sensor/camera available at their disposal to better understand the dynamics of the landing. I'm done now. :-)


Edited: 8 Aug 2012, 12:42 p.m.


You are right.

But I sure "your" money are not wasted in the Mars's programs, as all this exploration will profit for all the international communities.

And I understand it, by "black-box" we have to understand "a system capturing data and fly conditions and remotely send all these back to us.

By reading information about Curiosity, I understand that it has two central computers (for back-up) that control all the process. For sure, peoples at the NASA have design the system to act as "black-box" entities and Curiosity already have send back to Earth all records from the "auto-landing" process.

For sure, there is no data available at the moment on the Internet site, because the NASA experts need a few to investigate all flight parameters collected.

But since the complex transmission systems work. The complexity arises from intermediate Mars satellites and cyclic transmission windows due to rotation of Mars (and in one extant of the earth.
In a few weeks, NASA will publish « landing » simulation or animations base on actual fly parameters (gyroscopes, accelerometers, sky-crane sensors, retro-propulser’s powers, rocket valves opening, servo-motors. For sure, Curiosity top-level on-board equipments have record and is sending back thousand of recorded parameters…

Edited: 9 Aug 2012, 2:46 a.m.


Thanks C. for your detailed analysis of the events, technologies, and synchronization needed to piece together the flight data of the landing. You explained it better than my attempt.

>In a few weeks, NASA will publish « landing » simulation or animations

It seems the "few weeks" is here! Tomorrow (Friday, 10 Aug 2012) the EDL (Entry, Descent, and Landing) engineers are scheduled to show the reconstructed EDL animation sequence.

I am pleased that the engineers saw our point of view and decided to get moving on this animation. ;-)


Edited: 10 Aug 2012, 12:53 a.m.


I'm volunteer ;)

It seems we will have a hires video of this in few days.

A camera on the "sky-crane" would have been interesting and i think for far less than millions $ Perhaps there was...


Outstanding! Truly outstanding!!

BTW, where's the green man? (Could not help, sorry folks!)


Luiz (Brazil)


Given the state of the US economy I think it's a bit incongruous that money is still being spent on sending objects off into space.


Wrong way to look at it.

Please tell me, where did all the money get *spent* at (and will continue to be spent at)? Was it payload on the rocket and was ejected into space to float around? Or did it get used to pay salaries, fund work and equipment, and expand reasearch *here*?

I'd prefer that then, say, airdropping bills in the middle east...



I'm sure there was a lot of money spent on salaries of engineers and specialists as well as expensive equipment. However I still don't see how the end result of pictures from a lifeless planet benefits the average taxpayer.
Perhaps the money would be better spent on fixing the aging utility infrastructure in cities where there are still remnants of intelligent life, as well as on the highways and bridges connecting them.


On the contrary I think that these projects boost the economy and are real invests for the future

Just to compare, the cost is something like 0.2% of the wars of Irak and Afganistan...


If you think that tax dollars are wasted on space exploration i'd disagree. If the money wasn't spent on the basic science and technology for that it would be thrown down the usual rat holes like:
Bailouts for non-working rich criminals
Free stuff for non-working poor
Military adventures in petroleum & resource rich areas.


Then perhaps it's possible to achieve some savings here: send the first two groups off into space in batches. Douglas Adams described something similar in his second book of the Hitch-Hiker series.


When dumb people don't have anything better to do they spend their lives staying drunk or high and watching tv. When smart people don't have anything better to do they wreak havoc on a much larger scale. I say it's better to spend a couple billion dollars to keep them "tied up" for a few years with a mars rover than to be using their brains for evil.


Could not say any better...


Since you preface your remark with "given the state of the US economy", you are saying that such expenditures should be made only if and when we can "afford" to make them? I dare say that even if the US had no debt and was running no current deficit, if someone proposed spending x dollars to send a rover to Mars or y dollars to send a person to the ISS, someone else could say "that money would be much better spent here on earth for…” I.e., it would never happen. Engaging in a bit of hyperbole, I’ll say that by your line of reasoning no one should have children – they cost a bunch of money with no practical benefits. Sure, somewhere down the road we might need them to take care of us in our old age, but we’ll worry about that later.


It's fairly obvious that I hold a minority opinion, and this is all getting too far removed from the subject of calculators. I suppose as long as the television audience can watch images from Mars and the Hubble telescope they'll be content. I only tune in whenever one of the spacecraft explodes spectacularly like a multi-million dollar firework.


I like to think at least some people watching have an interest in the scientific findings, and also find these efforts inspirational. If I want things that go boom, I'll watch some Hollywood crap.

I can think of no better use of that tiny half of one cent of my tax dollar than our space program. I'd like to see it increased.

Edited: 8 Aug 2012, 3:48 p.m.


I can see an argument against spending so much money on the space stuff. I don't happen to agree with the view, but I can understand others having it. My question is this...If they were going to waste some of that money on having you there to work on the Mars Rover in any capacity, and watch it touch down with the team, who would decline! You can bet your sweet bippy I'd be there! Maybe even without the pay!


You can bet your sweet bippy I'd be there! Maybe even without the pay!

Would work for food, but I don't think I qualify [Have no PhD, have published no paper] :-)



That's me exactly...no PhD, wouldn't know what they were talking about, would sweep the bathrooms to be there! The link is hilarious. Sad, true, but hilarious! PhD is the new GED.

Edited: 8 Aug 2012, 6:43 p.m.


A BIG punch in the stomach...

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