Wednesday, 15 March 2006

My socks!

"We got the capabilities that will knock your socks off," said project scientist Richard Zurek.

The Reconnaissance Orbiter joins NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Odyssey and the European Space Agency's Mars Express, which already fly around the planet. On the surface, the NASA rovers Spirit and Opportunity continue rolling across the planet.

Unlike previous Mars missions, the Reconnaissance Orbiter is the most powerful spacecraft ever to arrive at Mars and is expected to send back more data about the Red Planet than ever before.

This neat stuff. I’m continually amazed at what NASA does. James Gosling, yeah, that James Gosling, puts this mission and the Mars exploration efforts in perspective:

"In terms of talent density, IQ points per square meter, [JPL is] just an amazing place. Plus, they are doing things that most people would think of as science fiction. Most people read science fiction stories about driving dune buggies on Mars. These guys actually build them. They actually know how to fly between the planets. I’ve spoken to some of the guys that do interplanetary navigation, and that is really spooky stuff. You actually have to pay attention to relativity, the fact that time is not a constant—the faster you go, the slower things are. They function in a world where relativity actually matters. They are way outside of Newtonian mechanics."

I can only imagine what it must be like to have accomplished this orbit, and two prior precision landings, around/on another planet from 35 million miles away! The rovers are 2 years plus past the mission requirements and exploring so much more than ever anticipated by the original team.

Kudos to all involved!

Posted by caffeinated at 10:03 AM in 0xDECAF

 

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