Tonight, we humans are attempting to land the biggest & most amazing space robot ever on Mars. If landing goes well, this will be a tremendous achievement.
For starters, Curiosity is GIANT compared to previous Mars rovers.
It was 15 years ago that the first rover, Sojourner, landed, and 8 years ago that Spirit and Opportunity landed. Opportunity has just finished up another Martian winter and is revving up for another great season of discovery. Curiosity will have more tools, cooler tech, & bigger guns. Spirit & Oppy were like geologists with hammers & hand lenses. Curiosity is more like a geochemist, a mobile analytical laboratory. More on the 3 generations of Mars rovers here.
The descent down to the surface is the part where problems might occur, which is why so many are talking about it and paying attention tonight. It should land within the next half an hour! If you haven't seen it yet, watch this NASA JPL video to see what it takes to land a robot the size of a dune buggy on another planet.
Today, CNN ran a story on Scott Maxwell, a guy who drives these rovers around. What a cool job!
Even a couple of celebrities from Star Trek fame have gotten in on the fun. Watch William Shatner & Wil Wheaton welcome Curiosity to the surface of Mars.
Finally, get your own Curiosity at 1:64 scale.
We're about 15 minutes to touchdown, so I'd better post this and get to watching the show!