Curiosity has been wandering Mars for a year today. What’s new?
We learned this morning on NPR’s Morning Edition that the landing was not as smooth as the public had been told: a vital navigational component was just a few centimeters out of place, and the discrepancy was not discovered until the very last minute. Change the programming and hope that everything works out? Don’t change the programming and hope that everything works out? Science can be full of tension and drama: it’s not just the science itself that can inspire fiction, but the stories of the people who do the science. (Listen to the interview itself, don’t just read the transcript.)
The article accompanying that NPR transcript has a wonderful video about the landing, cominding animations and actual footage. Curiosity has sent back thousands of photos, heaps of data, and demonstrated that Gale Crater once possessed the conditions necessary for life to exist. What’s next, for the scientists and engineers and their rover?