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Machines Like Us

Once more with Curiosity

Saturday, 11 August 2012
by Mano Singham

Someone has done an excellent job of splicing together the animation of the landing of the Mars Curiosity rover with the actual real-time narration of the event from NASA, the latter done in the familiar mission control voice with the deadpan, emotionless style we’ve come to expect from them, and set it all to background music.

Hearing the scientists and engineers and technicians releasing the tension as each critical stage is passed successfully and seeing them whooping it up at the conclusion, exchanging high fives and hugs, some with tears in their eyes, you cannot help but feel at one with them, sharing in their joy and endorsing their sense of accomplishment.

In this video you can see the last 2.5 minutes of the Curiosity landing in a rapid sequence of nearly 300 still photographs taken by the cameras on board. Note at the very end the Mars dust getting blown around by the jets.

We tend to be blasé nowadays, so taking for granted the incredible things that modern technology provides us on a daily basis that we get impatient and complain over the slightest glitch, such as when a web page takes a couple of seconds to load. Here we have clear photographs taken from a spacecraft landing smoothly on a planet over 150 million miles away, an incredibly complex feat.

It is astonishing to realize how far we humans have come in such a short time, captured so well in 2001: A Space Odyssey in one of the best cuts in all of films, seen at the 1:35 mark.