Mars rover landing sets off online celebration

By Arturo Garcia
Monday, August 6, 2012 10:30 EDT
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After years of work culminating in “seven minutes of terror,” NASA’s Curiosity rover successfully landed on Mars late Sunday evening, setting off a celebration for not just the team behind it, but the online community that gathered to witness the event.

As The Los Angeles Times reported, the announcement inside mission control that Curiosity touched down led to an exultant celebration for members of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“Everybody in the morning should be sticking their chest out saying: ‘That’s my rover on Mars,’” NASA administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr. said, a sentiment that seemed to resonate for Twitter users.

It did not go unnoticed, for example, that while traditional broadcast networks reportedly did not break away from their usual weekend programming for the rover’s landing, they could follow along on not only on live-streams but via a verified NASA account relaying a play-by-play of Curiosity’s descent and initial transmissions, though not without a sense of humor.

“I’m safely on the surface of Mars,” @MarsCuriosity tweeted after landing. “GALE CRATER I AM IN YOU!!!”

Right after that tweet, one user responded by noting that a crowd of people in Times Square had started chanting “NASA!” as the news got out.

Even some of the people behind the scenes became stars of their own: the mission’s flight director, Bobak Ferdowski, found himself the subject of his own tumblr fan page.

According to CNN, the rover after about a year will move from the outer layer of Gale Crater before moving on to Mount Sharp, located at its center, analyzing soil and rock samples in an effort to see whether the planet was ever able to sustain life.

Video of the JPL’s reaction to Curiosity’s first transmissions was posted on YouTube Sunday night, and can be seen below:

Arturo Garcia
Arturo Garcia
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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