The United States is reunited with Mars again, and it feels so good. So good, in fact, everybody is chiming in on the landing, including President Barack Obama and a few tech heavyweights with an eye to the sky.
The Mars rover Curiosity touched down on Mars at 1:31 am Eastern Time today, completing what NASA refers to as the “seven minutes of terror.” That is, it takes seven minutes from the time the rover enters the atmosphere to the time it touches the surface of Mars. But the signal from the rover takes 14 minutes in total to make it back to earth. Meaning, when NASA first finds out that the rover has entered Mars’ atmosphere, it has already landed on the surface, but NASA won’t know for another seven minutes whether it was a successful landing or the rover was destroyed.
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President Obama released a statement about the success of the landing today, saying:
Tonight, on the planet Mars, the United States of America made history.
The successful landing of Curiosity – the most sophisticated roving laboratory ever to land on another planet – marks an unprecedented feat of technology that will stand as a point of national pride far into the future. It proves that even the longest of odds are no match for our unique blend of ingenuity and determination.
Tonight’s success, delivered by NASA, parallels our major steps forward towards a vision for a new partnership with American companies to send American astronauts into space on American spacecraft. That partnership will save taxpayer dollars while allowing NASA to do what it has always done best – push the very boundaries of human knowledge. And tonight’s success reminds us that our preeminence – not just in space, but here on Earth – depends on continuing to invest wisely in the innovation, technology, and basic research that has always made our economy the envy of the world.
I congratulate and thank all the men and women of NASA who made this remarkable accomplishment a reality – and I eagerly await what Curiosity has yet to discover.
Here are a few other well-known figures jumping into the conversation:
Buzz Aldrin tweeted, “@MarsCuriosity has successfully landed on Mars. I’m at JPL on this momentous evening. This is one of many stepping stones to manned missions”
Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, a private company attempting to enter space tweeted, “Seven minutes of terror turns into joy as Rover successfully lands on Mars. Was there ever life on Mars? We should hopefully know soon.”
Virgin Galactic tweeted, “How about that @MarsCuriosity?!? The word ‘awesome’ gets over used these days… but that was awesome. Kudos, @NASA @NASAJPL and all others!”
William Shatner of all types of fame tweeted, “Olympics or @MarsCuriosity? I can’t decide which is more exciting tonight. My best, Bill”
SpaceX, the private company founded by Elon Musk that is also attempting consumer space travel said on Google+, “Success! Congrats to NASA on Curiosity!”
Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer of F-Secure tweeted some interesting stats: “Mars Curiosity rover on-board computer specs: CPU: 200MHz, RAM: 256MB, SSD: 2GB – iPhone specs: CPU: 800MHz, RAM: 512MB, SSD: 64GB #MSL”
Larry Page, co-founder of Google said on Google+, “Always good to see your shadow, especially when it is on MARS! Congrats NASA. Just watched part of the press conference and the excitement is contagious. I can’t imagine the feeling of relief after years and years of hard work and a lot of inherent risk. I hope we see a lot more missions like this. It would be amazing to see the other planets and moons up close and we would learn a lot, I’m sure.”
Last but not least, Aaron Levie, chief executive of Box had a number of hilarious things to say, but our favorite was, “The Mars Rover has to fly 350,000,000 miles to do its job. It turns out your commute isn’t so bad after all.”
Curiosity image via NASA