Last night was a big, big, big one in our geeked-up household. While I slept, my 12-year-old son Matthew stayed up past midnight to see if the Mars science Rover curiosity safely landed on the red planet. The landing was a complete success! Julie stayed up with Matt to watch it all, and said it was so touching, seeing how excited he was. I love me my space geek son.
I don’t geek out on that stuff, but Matt explained to me over the weekend what a staggering technological achievement the landing would be, if it succeeded. Consider that from our swiftly tilting planet, NASA scientists fired a bullet across the solar system, at another swiftly tilting planet, 352 million miles away. Had they simply managed to hit the planet, that would have been an astonishing feat. But they had to make sure that the bullet, which entered the Martian atmosphere at 13,000 mph, slowed down enough to descend at exactly the right speed to land the Curiosity rover, an extremely sophisticated piece of scientific equipment, safely.
There was zero room for error. Zero.
And they pulled it off.
We did this! Americans did this. Mankind did this. Awesome.
UPDATE: Oh man — not only did we pull off an un-freaking-believable technological feat in doing this, we also pulled off a pretty amazing one by photographing it. Check this out.