Nasa’s Curiosity rover successfully lands on Mars

The one-tonne vehicle, known as Curiosity, touched down in a deep crater near the planet’s equator after a plunging through the atmosphere.  It is going to look for evidence that Mars could once have supported life.

A signal confirming the rover was on the ground safely was relayed to Earth via Nasa’s Odyssey satellite, which is in orbit around the Red Planet.  The success was greeted with a roar of approval here at mission control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

This is the fourth rover Nasa has put on Mars, but its scale and sophistication dwarf all previous projects.  Its biggest instrument alone is nearly four times the mass of the very first robot rover deployed on the planet back in 1997.  [not to mention its plutonium battery, giving it a tremendously longer lifespan.  -ed.]

This ain’t your dad’s Mars rover.

I find it truly heartbreaking that there are still parts of the world even today where people are punished with death for striving to seek knowledge outside of the confines of their religion.  There are women who have acid thrown in their faces for committing the sin of seeking a secular education.  To the clerics and mullahs on the other side of the world – and even some evangelical fanatics in our own country – rational inquiry and skepticism is tantamount to the sin of blasphemy and must be stopped at all costs; in fact, it wasn’t very long ago in our own western culture where this mindset was just as pervasive, and it stifled our advancement for centuries.

Tonight?  I just saw a LIVE STREAM of an interplanetary vehicle – designed by humans – navigating its way to a safe landing on another world with the assistance of one we already sent there years before.  This latest accomplishment is testament to the centuries-long refusal on the part of countless inquisitive minds to settle for the explanation of the natural world given to us by ancient holy books and instead ask questions and explore the world around us, regardless of what we may find out and to hell with the “eternal” consequences.  This is what we’re capable of, and it’s barely the beginning.

Some screenshots I took from NASA’s livestream:

The very first thumbnail comes in …

It’s Curiosity’s wheel, with the lens cluttered with dust!

Mission Control collectively – and very understandably – loses its shit. Well done to all.

Close-up of the wheel shot.

Well done to everyone involved in this herculean effort. May curiosity never die.

This entry was posted in Freedom from Religion, More Tests of Faith, Science Marches On and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to CURIOSITY NAILS IT.

  1. Erin W says:

    When I read about and see things like this, for a very brief moment I think I understand what religious people say they feel. And then I feel even better because my feeling is based on reality. How can ‘the Spirit moving’ ever compare to something like this? In 25 years, when actual humans are on Mars, how can a small desert religion ever hope to match that in awe?

    • I’m sure they’ll find a way to keep the “Spirit” alive :). I know what you mean about that feeling, too. There’s many degrees of separation between me and the actual event we all witnessed last night, but there were several times today when I just sat back and thought about what we did and I shake my head in amazement. It’s obviously not the first time we’ve landed there, but it was the first time I saw it “live” streaming, and to have the landing coordinated with other vehicles in orbit just made it that much more incredible. All of this makes me feel profoundly excited for the future. Well, this part, at least.

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