Tag: Curiosity

Not Your Daddy’s NASA

It was just like the old days at NASA early this morning. Mission control updates. Blow by blow operation of critical systems. The tension was palpable as the Curiosity approached the surface of the Red Planet, Mars. In reality the results of the landing were already accomplished, good or bad, because it takes almost fourteen minutes for radio signals to reach earth from Mars at its current relative location.

As each major stage was successfully accomplished, mission control employees would applaud, and then continue their tasks as the landing progressed. Mission Control was at the JPL facilities at Cal Tech.

When it became known that the lander had arrived safely, it was party time. People jumped up, clapping their hands, showing their total enthusiasm. It was after one-thirty in the morning in Atlanta at my house, and I was happy, but not quite so jubilant.

I am probably wrong, but I got the distinct feeling that NASA wants us to feel like we still have the NASA of the last century. My feelings were a bit different.

This is the nineteenth Mars program in NASA history. The project cost $2.5 Billion, and was $1 Billion over budget, taking two years longer than projected.

What were the NASA folks cheering about? They had broken no new ground getting to Mars because they had done that eighteen times in the past. The only thing new was finding a way to land an automobile size rover without destroying it. They had been doing that bit of arithmetic for decades.

This is not your Daddy’s NASA. This is a bureaucracy of technocrats who feel they are entitled to unlimited sums of money, and deserve accolades when they come in over budget and late.

In my opinion they are barely doing their jobs.

Waiting On The Curiosity Rover

About 1:30 AM Monday, the NASA Mars rover is supposed to land on the Red Planet. This is exciting. How many times have we heard about Mars landers working, or even getting close to the planet? I don’t know, but I bet it is tough to find. It is tough to hit a moving target millions of miles away.

Mars and Earth both orbit the Sun, but at different speeds and distances. Plus, it takes several months for the rover rocket to get to where Mars is going to be. Think of it like shooting a gun in a direction where, six months later, you hope your target will be.

There’s lots of anticipation, and for a wee hours show, I am sure there will be a large viewing audience. I hope to be up at that hour. It would be nice to record the event, but I don’t know exactly when the landing will take place.

There will be all-star journalists at every juncture of the event with team coverage on every network. I am looking forward to Fox News reporters to be on site at Houston, and on Mars at the proposed landing site.

Without a doubt, The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore will be on the Red Planet looking for any of those famous Martian dust devils, or red sandstorms. This kind of thing can really screw up a landing, and we will all be there waiting and watching.

Maybe there will be special editions of Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room, or Anderson Cooper’s canceled show might be resurrected for one night.

The View will be all agog how Barack Obama dreamed up the trip, and how many people will be employed on Mars. Do not tell them that Obama doesn’t have a clue what Mars is, or where it can be found.

 

UPDATE: The Rover Curiosity landed as planned, and the mission has been a huge success, to this point. However, Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel was nowhere to be seen. Where is Cantore? Did he miss the bus to Mars? What’s the story?