Discussion in 'Astronomy, Exobiology, & Cosmology' started by sculptor, Nov 26, 2018.
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It has successfully landed on Mars' surface. In one piece, not as shrapnel.
I watched it on the NASA live-stream from JPL, and the tension got pretty thick there.
The thing separated from its cruise stage (which burned up) and rotated to assume the proper attitude for atmospheric entry.
Telemetry was lost due to ionization, which was expected (but nerve-wracking).
Telemetry was reacquired, a supersonic parachute was deployed and the radar altimeter turned on.
A woman tensely called out altitude. It seemed to be descending very quickly and that scared me.
Then the landing rockets kicked in and descent slowed to a stop. Moments later touchdown was confirmed!
Everyone at JPL started cheering and hugging each other.
And there was the Peanut Thing. Peanuts apparently are a tradition at JPL. It goes back to the early Ranger missions in the 1960's to photograph the Moon from close up. The first six tries failed. (The project got the nickname "shoot and hope" and led to several JPL shakeups.)
Then when they tried again, somebody passed around peanuts. And for the first time the mission worked! Since then, they have passed around peanuts for every JPL mission, and they have had an exemplary record of success.
Successful space missions require that peanuts be eaten in mission control. It's... science! (If that isn't so, it's an interesting exercise to try to explain why not. It's an experimentally confirmed hypothesis after all.)
"exemplary" when they don't mix measurements, that is.
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