View from a Curiosity camera on the Mars Science Laboratory rover.  History!

The most envy-inducing holiday photo ever – Curiosity on Mars.

Oh happy day!  On the 6th of August, 2012, the Curiosity rover made successful touchdown on the surface of Mars.  I stayed up last night to watch the control room feed, streamed live into my living room via the power of the internet, and I was SO HAPPY for those excited men and women the moment they called out ‘touchdown’.  I was almost in tears, just as they were.

More thoughts on this, and what it would have looked like if Curiosity had thrown a few Instagram-like effects on her snap, after the jump.

It sounds daft that I – someone who has nothing to do with space, and am not even American, would be so moved by their success – but it’s what it means.  This was an incredibly risky landing – there’s posts and videos galore explaining just how terrifying the landing sequence was – and they made it!  They made it and science can keep taking (hopefully funded and supported) steps forwards into our solar system.  If the landing had failed – there would have been good science, of course, but the effect on morale and on getting funding for future missions would have been devastating.

As it is – NASA and JPL (good job everyone involved!) have given popular opinion on science a much needed shot in the arm, as well as getting this armchair astronaut inordinately excited.  I wanted to be in that room, I wanted to hug all those engineers, scientists and controllers, but more than that – I wanted to stand where they are now, metaphorically looking out into the future on a much clearer, sunnier, martian morning.

For added silliness – here’s the photo if Curiosity had (like some people I know) been unable to submit a photograph without throwing a few arty photo-effects on it first.  Hey mom – I’m a trendy photographer! :)

Over-manipulated version of the Curiosity photograph from Mars - instagram style!

If Curiosity were photo-effect-happy, this might have been the result.

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