The View from Mars

“I need to write a blog about this. I need to write a blog. I NEED TO WRITE A BLOG.”

Or so I’ve been thinking to myself pretty regularly for the past 4 weeks. AND I’M FINALLY DOING IT. Apologies (as usual) for the delay in posting. I can’t even say I’ve been particularly busy. I mean, I have been busy, but I’ve had plenty of free time since the NYU program wrapped up July 13. I’ve had plenty of adventures, too. The New York philharmonic, job interviews, and more recently duck in Chinatown (complete with the head), “Into the Woods” at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, and The Curiosity Rover Landing.

And that’s what I’m going to talk about. When I saw that they would be broadcasting the landing in Times Square, I decided I had to go. I mean, I’m in New York, and this is a big deal, it would be like a big party right? Well, partially right. At first, the whole affair was a bit disappointing. It was on possibly the tiniest screen in Times Square, and to hear we had to hold our phones to our ears, and most of the people in the area were more interested in finding themselves on the big advertising screen over the McDonald’s. Maybe they didn’t know that we were about to attempt the MOST DIFFICULT MARS LANDING EVER, but it was frustrating. Didn’t anyone appreciate what we were about to do? Didn’t this deserve a slightly larger screen, a bigger deal? I’m not sure what I expected, I guess a packed square with trumpets blaring and mars confetti or something.

That said, it was really cool. The closer to 1:31 AM it got, the more people who actually cared gathered. There were some nice people from NASA handing out pins and stickers, several news crews, and some really awesome nerdy shirts (including a bedazzled R2D2 shirt). And as we listened to the NASA landing crew talk to each other, not really understanding what they were saying but hoping it was good, there was finally an air of excitement that felt appropriate. No, the square still wasn’t full, but there was something about being in such a big, shiny place, holding my breath with several hundred others as we watched the anxious faces on the screen. And then…success. It touched down. A cheer went up around the square; one guy behind us was yelling “We did it! We did it!”

Up on the screen, we could see the NASA scientists celebrating. They were hugging and yelling and high fiving. That must be the most amazing feeling, knowing that your hard work put something on another planet. I mean, sure, we’ve done it before, but Curiosity is going to allow us to get more knowledge than ever, and just the sheer difficulty of achieving a safe landing is something to marvel at, no matter how many times it’s been done before.

And then the first pictures came in. Sitting in Times Square, we were seeing pictures of another planet. It was astounding. Truly breathtaking, and definitely anything but disappointing.

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