This is it, guys. Tonight's the night. NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity will attempt to land on the surface of Mars today. Here is Boing Boing's guide for how to follow her descent. Spaceflight Now's coverage should be excellent.
Here's an excellent history of human exploration of the red planet, by Miles O'Brien, and here's his report for PBS NewsHour chronicling Curiosity's long, strange trip.
Here's a photo gallery of Curiosity, during construction a year ago inside JPL. Here's my interview with JPL's Ashwin Vasavada, describing the science behind this amazing venture.
Science willing, I'll be at JPL tonight, and I'll send transmissions to the home blog. This is a wonderful and historic day for our exploration of the universe. I'm so happy to be alive to witness it.
Image above: An artist's still showing how NASA's Curiosity rover will communicate with Earth during landing. As the rover descends to the surface of Mars, it will send out two different types of data: basic radio-frequency tones that go directly to Earth (pink dashes) and more complex UHF radio data (blue circles) that require relaying by orbiters. NASA's Odyssey orbiter will pick up the UHF signal and relay it immediately back to Earth, while NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will record the UHF data and play it back to Earth at a later time. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)
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