Mars orbiter catches pic of Curiosity on its way down!

By Phil Plait | August 6, 2012 10:12 am

This is truly astonishing: the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter snapped what may turn out to be the Space Picture of the Year: Curiosity descending to Mars under its parachutes!

Holy. Haleakala.

The rover is safely tucked inside the backshell, suspended underneath its huge parachute. This image was taken just moments after Curiosity’s speed had dropped from thousands of kilometers per hour to just hundreds. Shortly after that, rockets underneath took over the job of slowing it further, so that the sky crane could lower Curiosity safely to the Martian surface.

This took incredible skills in calculations, engineering, and a just a wee pinch of good timing. Engineers here on Earth knew just where and when Curiosity would be coming down, so they were able to aim HiRISE at the right place at the right time. It strongly reminds me of a similar picture taken in 2008 by the same camera as the Phoenix lander descended to the surface of Mars. I suspect MRO was closer to Curiosity than it was to Phoenix, allowing higher resolution. [Update (16:40 UTC): More info about the picture can be found on the MRO HiRISE wesbite.]

The simple and sheer amazingness of this picture cannot be overstated. Here we have a picture taken by a camera on board a space probe that’s been orbiting Mars for six years, reset and re-aimed by programmers hundreds of millions of kilometers away using math and science pioneered centuries ago, so that it could catch the fleeting view of another machine we humans flung across space, traveling hundreds of million of kilometers to another world at mind-bending speeds, only to gently – and perfectly – touch down on the surface mere minutes later.

The news these days is filled with polarization, with hate, with fear, with ignorance. But while these feelings are a part of us, and always will be, they neither dominate nor define us. Not if we don’t let them. When we reach, when we explore, when we’re curious – that’s when we’re at our best. We can learn about the world around us, the Universe around us. It doesn’t divide us, or separate us, or create artificial and wholly made-up barriers between us. As we saw on Twitter, at New York Times Square where hundreds of people watched the landing live, and all over the world: science and exploration bind us together. Science makes the world a better place, and it makes us better people.

It’s what we can do, and what we must do.


Image credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona


Related Posts:

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- Best. Image. Ever.
- Why explore space?
- HiRISE spots Phoenix once again

Comments (116)

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  1. Steven

    http://blogs.nature.com/news/2012/08/mars-orbiter-plans-for-a-curiosity-close-up.html

    Useful details about the planning process for this image. MRO was closer this time, and the parachute was larger, too!

  2. Jim Cliborn

    Sweet! sweet! sweet!!!!!!

  3. “Science makes the world a better place, and it makes us better people.”
    That’s lovely. And, it puts things on other planets, which is mind-boggling to me no matter how many times we do it.

  4. I love this…got goosebumps as I read it. Thanks Phil!

  5. Wow!!! What a fantastic photograph! Thanks, Phil. :)

    I agree, curiosity brings out the best in us. How does this work? How can we make this work? Who can help me/us? What can we learn from this? How do we improve this? What *is* this? How can we accomplish this goal?

    Life is about exploring and learning…together. Well done, NASA and everyone involved with the Mars Science Laboratory program. Go Curiosity!!!!!! Incredible!

  6. Woot! Only better candidate for pic of the year would be, oh, lichen on the underside of a Martian rock.

  7. Brian

    And don’t forget, MRO snapped this photo while Odyssey was acting as a relay for the signals from Curiosity as it descended. Remember Odyssey? It was put in orbit over ten years ago!

    We’ve already built a well-established communication infrastructure on Mars.

  8. Can anybody place exactly where this is on Mars? Was looking at Google Mars trying to compare physical features, but I have no idea what the flight path was.

  9. George

    “It doesn’t divide us, or separate us, or create artificial and wholly made-up barriers between us.”
    My relegious friend disagree with all that. Want all that stop at once. That has seperated us …

  10. Mejilan

    Wow, this is SOOOO much better than the Phoenix shot.
    This, and the EDL telemetry coordination by Odyssey, are just amazing, amazing feats!

  11. Nick

    This is a waste of time and resources. We’d be better off doing a manned mission.

  12. AdamG

    Unbelievable! Watching NASA’s feed last night I was saying how awesome it would be to be able to see this momentous occasion with pictures or videos. I had no idea MRO would get such an amazing shot! Too bad we couldn’t see the sky crane in action, that would have been the most epic shot in Mars exploration history!

  13. Daffy

    Wow—there are some very, VERY smart people behind all this. Good on ya!

  14. Renee Marie Jones

    Wow. Just wow.

    Imagine if we had a glimpse of the skycrane in action! I know, I’m just too hard to please. Well, I can wish.

  15. Fizz

    That is just…. in the truest sense of the word… awesome.

  16. INCREDIBLE! Love the post, too, I completely agree! This is a time for awe, people. This is amazing stuff.

  17. Go Curiosity gooo !!! So excited and moved by what NASA has achieved. :]

  18. Wzrd1

    “The news these days is filled with polarization, with hate, with fear, with ignorance. But while these feelings are a part of us, and always will be, they neither dominate nor define us.”

    Many were increasingly of the opinion that they’d all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans.

    Douglas Adams is sorely missed.

  19. Maagaard

    I am beyond words to describe what I feel when I see this….
    Just wow….

  20. Jerry

    What a fantastic photo and I am really looking forward to Curiosity’s success.

    I admit I am frustrated that Curiosity II isn’t already on her way with Curiosity III being in final stages of test for her launch in 6 months. Now that one was built, what’s the marginal cost of the second and third? We should make Curiosity into a platform and keep building them and sending them out.

  21. Dang, the MSL and MRO teams they are good at what they do!

  22. James Beatty

    The problem with catching the skycrane in action is that all the timing uncertainty in the landing sequence is in the duration of the parachute phase (it starts at a variable altitude and ends at a fixed altitude). There’s more than ±30 seconds (1 minute) of uncertainty, and the skycrane phase is shorter than that; it’s as short as possible to minimize fuel consumption.

    The other problem is that the HiRISE camera is a single pixel wide linear array which is scanned by rotating the spacecraft, so it needs the target to be not moving, or at least moving predictably while it’s being photographed or it’ll look very distorted, like a scanner or photocopier of a moving piece of paper.

    And the skycrane is accelerating significantly for a large fraction of its flight.

    I suppose you’d see basically the same thing parachute + backshell whether the skycrane is attached or not, so you could try. But you’d risk not actually having a legible picture of the lander proper, and that might reduce the PR value.

    Anyway, I’m sure they’ll be taking lots of additional pictures ASAP.

  23. Dan

    I see that picture and it just takes my breath away. How amazing that we can do something like this.

    Sending a car sized machine hundreds of millions of kilometers away for a complex, picture perfect landing on another planet; AND capturing the decent on the way down with a picture from another machine we sent to orbit the planet? THAT is a feat truly worthy of a gold medal!

  24. Mejilan

    @Nick (#12)
    Techniques like this sky crane need to be tested and perfected before manned missions become feasible. Simpler parachuting/air-balloon techniques are fine for lightweight, coffee-tabled sized rovers, but are insufficient for heavier loads that would hypothetically include manned teams and the habitation units, equipment, technology, and supplies they would require for their mission. This is true even in the highly likely event that such supplies and equipment would be divvied up and sent separately through multiple craft well in advance of the astronauts intended to use them.

    Edit – I’m assuming you meant a manned mission to Mars…

  25. Thanks, Phil, for pointing out it took science, technology, engineering, and math to do this. I also appreciate whoever got it on the big screen in Times Square too. Maybe a liberal arts major even! That’s something considering NASA TV isn’t even one of the hundreds of TV channels in New York. The attention to advancement is important. My power and internet went out this morning and came back just in time for the press conference. Curiosity required extreme reliabilty, yet our standards on Earth are terrible. Our engineers could do it if they just had the funding, the management, and the public support!

  26. Jan fron Denmark

    just one word : WOW !!

  27. Not forgetting how incredible it is that a picture can put there for all of us to see within hours of the event actually happening!
    Interplanetary communication is here :)

  28. RAF

    @nick #12

    We have to take “baby steps” before we can take the Giant Leaps.

    Hey, that was pretty good. :D

  29. “Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure, science”. Edward Hubble

    I am too at a loss for words before this amazing historic event.

    (now let’s all wait for the conspiracy theories that will surely get published soon :D )
    And yes, Douglas Adams is sorely missed.

  30. Chip

    I watched on NASA TV – at the press conference when this image was revealed, you could just see and hear the excitement from everyone. Really inspiring!

  31. RayG

    That’s awesome, but… I think they should have sent a video drone ahead of Curiosity so we could watch the final approach and touchdown in real time. THAT would have nothin but AWESOME WIN!

  32. Brad Hoehne

    Cool as this picture may be, I’d wager that the first panoramic image of the landing site with the MastCams, with mountains in view, will eek out a victory in the “image of the year.”

    Could someone just knock me out until that arrives? I can’t stand the wait!

  33. cambrico

    Olympic games and Curiosity successfully landing on Mars! Best week of the Year!

  34. TomH

    “The news these days is filled with polarization, with hate, with fear, with ignorance. But while these feelings are a part of us, and always will be, they neither dominate nor define us. Not if we don’t let them. When we reach, when we explore, when we’re curious – that’s when we’re at our best.” — Well said, Sir!

  35. Ever since I was a young man graduating from engineering school (one of the “polytechs” that helped build Curiosity, in fact), I always felt that my generation had failed to live up to the grand achievements of my father’s generation — the one that put a man on the moon and launched probes that are on still running 30+ years later and on the verge of leaving the solar system.

    Early this morning (here on the ‘right’ coast) that feeling started to change. After seeing this picture, I think I can safely say that my generation has shifted the burden to our children to “top that.” Good luck, kids. We know you can do it. Let’s hope you get the chance.

  36. Tribeca Mike

    A fantastic achievement, and well said/written/wowsers! My alma mater, the University of Arizona, strikes again! (Perhaps Phoenix should be renamed Tucson so as to avoid any confusion with Arizona State?)

  37. Matchewy

    “Science makes the world a better place, and it makes us better people.”

    Science is cool and all, but at the end of the day it’s just mental masturbation. The fact that their are still people dieing of starvation and war doesn’t say much. Sure science has made the quality of life better, but at what expense? Overpopulation, global warming, extinction, etc.

    There is a paradox with science – for every problem solved, 10 new problems arise.

    Seems to me that if there’s anything science has tough us, it’s that we first need to learn to love ourselves and each other, be compassionate, empathetic, and most importantly: give back to the planet what we take.

    Without this, we will be empty shells with little left to explore.

  38. joe l.

    any thoughts on why there where no cameras on top of the rover or under the lifter that could have captured the sky crane in action? is it because those would be otherwise not very useful, single-purpose cameras?

  39. Chris Martin

    I’m just overwhelmed! Absolutely fantastic. Absolute admiration to the NASA guys responsible. Well done guys and that’s an understatement!

  40. Guysmiley777

    Renee Marie Jones: They were recording telemetry the whole way down, so they probably can feed that into a 3D model to give us some eye candy sometime down the road.

  41. Ryan S.

    Words can’t describe just how unbelievable this been…

    What an amazing display of what Science can do…

  42. barry

    wow people were out watching in times square? damm i missed that. i too think this kinnd of stuff should be broadcast more widly. why aren’t we having 24/7 coverage of COOPERATEIVE CREATIVE acheivements like this and large hadron colider along with things like the olympics? these happenings take thousands of people working TOGETHER to build lasting creations, to extend our gut level experience of the real world we live in. i think stuff like this makes the olympics look like kids playing in a sandbox.

  43. If you want to get some feel for what it’s like to be a flight controller watching telemetry from Curiosity, download NASA’s next-generation mission operations software, Mission Control Technologies (MCT). My team at NASA Ames Research Center recently made it open source under the Apache 2.0 license. The demo version can be downloaded and run with no computer knowledge, and does almost everything that the full version does, except save the displays you create. (Sorry, the demo version shows only fake data, though we are working on a plugin to let you see a small amount of real ISS data.)

    JPL’s Curiosity team will not be using MCT initially, because we had it ready too late for their schedule, but MCT’s views are similar to the views of the software that the Curiosity flight controllers are using, so you can get some idea. We have even built the data adapter so MCT can show Curiosity data, and have demonstrated it at JPL. On our web site there is also a three-minute overview video and a Quick Start Guide. Be sure to plug in the example plugins from the Plug Ins page! Find our web site by searching the internet for “NASA open MCT”. Also check out our blog, which is linked from our web site.

  44. Mark

    Watched last night…awesome stuff and IMO money well spent. This needs to be the precursor to the inevitable human mission. We continue to waste money on whatever the flavor of the day is here, what we should be doing is planning courageous exploration missions that challenge us. Side note, as the cheers were reverberating throughout JPL last night I couldn’t help but wonder what the Russians were thinking. I would imagine quite the hand-wringing.

    Has anyone seen the pic floating around online about the first image of Curiosity? Has Marvin the Martian peering from the side. Couldn’t stop laughing at that one.

  45. Keith Bowden

    How fortuitous! I just got my copy of the John Carter Blu-ray! Not as good as the real Mars, but what the hey, I enjoyed it.

  46. Steve P.

    Johnradke@8,
    re Google Mars
    From the big blue depression in the southern hemisphere, go roughly northeast until you hit the transition between the yellow and green zones. You will find Gale Crater, conspicuous by its depth and a vaguely Australia-shaped mountain inside.

  47. Harvey

    This photo only proves that it’s curiosity that brought mankind to that photo.

  48. Entropy

    @ Mark
    The Russians are doing just fine. For the next few years at least, they’ll be the only ones capable of putting humans in space.

  49. Forrest

    @Tom Dayton

    Thanks for the info. I think one of the most important things NASA can do from a PR perspective is to release more ‘apps’ like this for general consumption.

    Thanks to a tweet from Phil I found the NASA/JPL simulator just in time to ‘witness’ the last hour or so of the approach and landing. I knew it was just a simulation, but watching it in conjunction with the feed from the control room at JPL made it feel so much more real…I was just awestruck.

    I think part of the struggle of keeping people interested in NASA and space exploration is that once we chuck something out into space, we rarely actually get to SEE it again. The average person might find it hard to connect with the wealth of information we get from missions like this, but if you anthropomorphize the hardware a bit (the @MarsCuriosity twitter account is a great example of this) and highlight the very real drama surrounding the mission, the whole ordeal becomes a lot more interesting to those who might (sadly) find the science and engineering aspects ‘boring’.

    More interest -> more political will to keep doing things like this -> more and better opportunities -> more interest… it could be a vicious cycle of awesome :)

  50. Shane

    Fast forward 1000 years; humanity has moved to the Martian surface after science has terraformed it to suit Earthly life, since humans have left Earth all but destroyed. The Martian population is expanding wildly, and the inhabitants have factioned along religious lines. Wars are fought nonstop between these different religions, and no one is safe from the massive weaponry science has dutifully helped create. Massive bloodshed and fear is a part of daily life on Mars.

    1000 years ago, no one expected this. Humanity was hopeful that science would make this world a better place, they expected it to make us better people, but it couldn’t.

  51. Andrei

    “The news these days is filled with polarization, with hate, with fear, with ignorance. But while these feelings are a part of us, and always will be, they neither dominate nor define us. Not if we don’t let them. When we reach, when we explore, when we’re curious – that’s when we’re at our best. We can learn about the world around us, the Universe around us. It doesn’t divide us, or separate us, or create artificial and wholly made-up barriers between us. As we saw [...] (hundreds of people watched the landing live, and all over the world): science and exploration bind us together. Science makes the world a better place, and it makes us better people.

    It’s what we can do, and what we must do.”

    I belive this quote is a perfect one for Gavin Aung Than of Zen Pencils to turn into one of he’s comics.

  52. HvP

    Did anyone else notice that today’s Google doodle shows Curiosity hanging from the sky-crane in the sky above the Olympic javelin thrower?

  53. John

    I can’t wait to see the images from the descent camera.

  54. Dave

    Pains me to think how much farther along humanity would be if we spent more time and money on these exploratiosn and technologies than those of destruction and war.

  55. carbonUnit

    Interestingly, the Google doodle seems to have originally had a blimp instead of Curiosity. They must have changed it once the landing succeeded.

    http://zeenews.india.com/news/net-news/london-2012-javelin-the-11th-google-doodle-of-its-kind_791963.html

  56. Tribeca Mike

    HvP — thanks for pointing that out!

  57. Matt B.

    Uh, oh. Sounds like you have some competition, Phil. Some guy calling himself the Cool Astronomer (Derrick Pitts of the Franklin Institute, if I have that right) was just on the Randi Rhodes Show to talk about Curiosity. :)

  58. Mark

    @entropy

    Was referencing the russians because they seem to have a devil of a time trying to land craft on Mars. Understand they have humans in space.

  59. carbonUnit

    The pre-landing Google doodle appears to have had a blimp instead of Curiosity. Link tied up in moderation, Google Image search for [ "Google doodle" javelin curiosity ]

  60. Joseph G

    @63 HVP: Did anyone else notice that today’s Google doodle shows Curiosity hanging from the sky-crane in the sky above the Olympic javelin thrower?

    Hah! I didn’t until you pointed it out. Good catch :)

  61. Bebop

    Matchewy@45

    “There is a paradox with science – for every problem solved, 10 new problems arise”

    It would be more accurate to say “for every question answered, we find 10 more we never knew existed.” We have an incredible universe out there and we’ve still barely scratched the surface of what can be known, understood, and done. We don’t create more problems by science, we just nibble away at the unexplored reality that’s out there. It is that alone that gets me excited about Curiosity, about the LHC, and so much else that is going on.

    I’ll agree that we often get in our own way, and generate our own problems – we humans have all sorts of issues that lead to uneven, self-defeating, and destructive behavior – but so what? We do that with or without science. We did that when all we had was sticks. We do that now with everything from vaccines to nukes. Mixing science with humanity often seems to result in sub-optimal outcomes, but that’s not science’s fault. I prefer to hope that we’ll continue to reach, to explore, and to be curious, and that eventually we’ll get better at those non-science things that get in the way of the great things science does for us.

  62. Doug Little

    Science is cool and all, but at the end of the day it’s just mental masturbation

    What a grossly misinformed statement about science. Science is the only objective tool we have for understanding reality.

  63. Joseph G

    But yeah, kudos to the MRO team! Even if they just wanted to share a little of MSL’s spotlight ;)

  64. Tribeca Mike

    Any idea where the “sky crane” alighted?

  65. John

    Not that there’s much scientific value to this, but I hope we’re able to get some reasonably-detailed images of the Sky Crane’s crash site.

  66. Naomi

    Tribeca Mike @ 44, looks like I picked the right uni to do my study abroad program at. Go HiRISE, go Alfred McEwan, and go everyone involved!

  67. Cheese McBeese

    When I see incredible achievement like this it makes me want to cry over the massive amount of ignorant stupidity that surrounds us in our daily lives.

  68. Cheese McBeese

    @Entropy – too true, but who wants to ride to and from space in a Lada. Soon we’ll be able to make the journey in a Tesla Dragon. :)

  69. Tribeca Mike

    Naomi — Color me green. Great astronomy program. I’ve often thought the U of A art department I attended in the seventies could’ve used some of their creativity. And it just doesn’t get any better than Norteno cuisine. ;-)

  70. zeniden

    I feel like I am 12 years old again glued to the b&w tv watching the Apollo 11 mission. Truly Awesome.
    Off subject but why didn’t they put a microphone in the package? For a few grams we could hear what martian weather sounds like. That would also be inspiring if not scientifically significant. I believe Sagan was advocating for such years ago.

  71. I agree the photo is miraculous, but the way Phil Plait has written the article is truly inspiring. If he had published this picture with the words, ‘what a good picture, what do you think?’ would it have had the same reaction. Well done Phil! If we all took a leaf from your book and praised and inspired rather than condemned it would certainly make the world a better place

  72. Nigel Depledge

    Matchewy (45) said:

    Science is cool and all, but at the end of the day it’s just mental masturbation. The fact that their are still people dieing of starvation and war doesn’t say much.

    Which has what, exactly, to do with science?

    The fact that war and famine still exist is a tribute to human idiocy. Don’t blame science for not having found a cure.

    Sure science has made the quality of life better, but at what expense? Overpopulation, global warming, extinction, etc.

    These are not the fault of science, they are the fault of short-sighted political and economic policies and infrastructures that focus on returns now and leave what happens tomorrow as a problem for Ron (as in “Later Ron”). Science and technology have, it is true, given us the tools to make an impact on the global climate, for example, but the same tools could equally have given rise to a sustainable technological society had the economic and political environment been different.

    There is a paradox with science – for every problem solved, 10 new problems arise.

    That’s an interesting thesis. Do you have any data to support it?

    Seems to me that if there’s anything science has [taught] us, it’s that we first need to learn to love ourselves and each other, be compassionate, empathetic, and most importantly: give back to the planet what we take.

    We could equally well have worked all that out without science. After all, all you are espousing there is a humanist and naturalist philosophy that denies human pre-eminence in the biosphere. However, the illusion of human pre-eminence has allowed people to get rich quick, which means that it has been widely encouraged for most of the last 2000 years.

    Without this, we will be empty shells with little left to explore.

    Unless the “mental masturbation” that you denigrate so provides us with solutions, right?

  73. Nigel Depledge

    Entropy (57) said:

    @ Mark
    The Russians are doing just fine. For the next few years at least, they’ll be the only ones capable of putting humans in space.

    Not really. The Chinese space programme certainly has the capability to put humans into LEO (IIUC, they have a small manned space station up there now, unless that mission has finished already).

  74. Paulino

    So much win in one picture!!

  75. #45: “Science is cool and all, but at the end of the day it’s just mental masturbation. The fact that their are still people dieing of starvation and war doesn’t say much. Sure science has made the quality of life better, but at what expense? Overpopulation, global warming, extinction, etc.”

    Don’t forget to add functional illiteracy and misunderstanding of what science is to your list of bad things.

    Regarding the “evil brought upon us by science”, go read Feynman’s “The Value of Science” (link on my name):

    “To every man is given the key to the gates of heaven; the same key opens the gates of hell.”

  76. Starving children

    let’s focus on this for a change. Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nl5dlbCh8lY

  77. Infinite123Lifer

    What a GREAT couple of days!

    Wow, never seen that before Ricardo. Thank you. Inspiring.

  78. Naomi

    Tribeca Mike, it was an amazing opportunity. Probably my favourite class was the Mars class, taught by Peter Smith, the PI of the Phoenix mission. Actually, I credit that class with getting me fascinated with Curiosity in the first place!

    If anyone has the opportunity to study astronomy at UA – do it.

  79. MaDeR

    @Matchewy “Science is cool and all, but at the end of the day it’s just mental masturbation.”
    Your inane comment was posted using end result of this “mental masturbation”. You invalidated your own idiotic claim.

  80. I think it is awesome and I know that this is such a huge accomplishment for humanity! Awesome what we can do! I have made a Brite about it… kind of a cute way of looking at the rover!

    http://www.britely.com/SarahGurbach/curiosity-will-land-you-on-mars

  81. Matchewy

    @MaDeR

    Sounds like you need a hug!

    {HUGS} :)

  82. Infinite123Lifer

    @Matchewy

    I suggest you expand your understanding about your philosophy of what science is by reading the link provided by Ricardo at #98.

    To be honest it sounds like YOU need your meds.

    {MEDS} :)

    I sympathize with your comments about love, empathy and sustainable resources being the most important tool in the proverbial human toolkit and in fact I agree, for without these we may not or will not be able to raise our future generation, thusly putting the things you have listed at the top of the list “things more important than science”, but I think thats a given.

    Your statement about what science is though shows your rampant ineptitude. I suggest taking a good look at what Nigel Depledge@91 and Bebop@73 have explained to you as well. Then I suggest a good long hard look at your understanding of the world.

    Cheers.

  83. Infinite123Lifer

    @ Sarah

    Thats way cool! :)

    From the Feynman link at 98:

    “Another value of science is the fun called intellectual enjoyment which some people get from reading and learning and thinking about it, and which others get from working in it. This is an important point, one which is not considered enough by those who tell us it is our social responsibility to reflect on the impact of science on society.
    Is this mere personal enjoyment of value to society as a whole? No! But it is also a responsibility to consider the aim of society itself. Is it to arrange matters so that people can enjoy things? If so, then the enjoyment of science is as important as anything else.”

    Hopefully there will be more art like this in the future to better reflect our amazing understanding of the Universe.

  84. Nigel Depledge

    Matchewy (104) said:

    @MaDeR

    Sounds like you need a hug!

    So, are you incapable of recognising that your critics have a point?

    You posted a tirade about how science had created more problems than it solved and was mere “mental masturbation”. MaDeR’s point was that, without the “mental masturbation” on which you were so down, it would have been impossible for you to have posted that comment, or to have read Phil’s blog. Or for blogs to exist. Or, come to think of it, for most of us to have survived past our fifth birthdays.

    Thus, the very existence of your comment invalidates its content.

    Therefore, it seems only reasonable to me that science in general (and MaDeR in particular, because of your patronising comment) deserves an apology from you.

    Or are you too small-minded to accept you might be wrong?

  85. Nigel Depledge

    Oh, man! I screwed up my blockquote tags in #107.

    My text starts from the word “So”.

  86. bls

    Where is the sky crane right now? After lowering the rover, how did it descend?

  87. bls

    What happened to the sky crane after the rover was lowered?

  88. Harry Kuheim

    Fire all the Astronauts…they are obsolete. Spend the savings on an Army of Rovers on every Planet.

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