Re: Mars Landing Sunday night (Early Monday morning)
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Wow! I am amazed and jealous. I need a job that fully funds, but does not interfere with my hobbies.
From: backbayastro@... [mailto:backbayastro@...] On Behalf Of George Reynolds
Sent: Monday, August 06, 2012 5:08 PM
Subject: Re: [backbayastro] Re: Mars Landing Sunday night (Early Monday morning)
Oops, maybe I should have read the rest of the posts before jumping in with what the NASA guy said in the press conference that followed the landing. Thanks for the math, Kevin.
We had a great time at the Virginia Air and Space Center last night. We set up scopes on the third floor to look at the beautiful waning gibbous moon for a couple dozen visitors who came all the way up there. Mark Gerlach, Paul Tartabini, Bob Beurlein, Bird Taylor and I were there, along with a Frenchman named Guiam, (a friend of Bird's), and Larry Meyer. About 0045 (that's 12:45 AM, for you civilians) most of us (except Bird and Bob) went to the IMAX theater and watched the JPL control room on the big screen. The theatre was packed! A few latecomers had to sit on the floor. We all cheered and clapped at each successful stage of the flight: cruise module separation, actual entry, parachute deployment, retro-rocket firing, "sky crane" deployment, and final touchdown. Wow! what a feat of engineering! The guys at NASA, both JPL and Langley, were ecstatic. Our crowd at VASC was pretty happy, too.
After the landing, we went back upstairs to the observation deck and showed the moon to a few more visitors who came up from the theatre. Larry and Paul showed a couple more objects they could in the light-polluted sky, like the Double Cluster (which had "lost its luster", according to Paul). Just as we were packing up, Jupiter rose above the hotel building to the east, so a few of us got it in our scopes. Shrouded in Earth's clouds and thick boiling atmosphere, it was "the worst we had ever seen it".
We stayed up there after everyone had left, waiting for the NASA news conference, which was to start "no earlier than" 11:15 PM PDT, which, of course, was 2:15 AM here on the east coast. We finally had to shut it down and leave, because the VASC people wanted to go home.
Bird was right, he was 100% sure it would land safely. I like to put it in terms of the Olympics. Curiosity Rover "stuck" the landing, like a gold medal-winning gymnast.
And Mark Ost, no, we did not stay up until 1:30 AM. It was 3:30 by the time I finally got home from Hampton and crawled into bed. (And I got up beofre 7 am, and yawned all the way to work this morning.) What a life!