Earth to NewsFeed readers: after eight and a half months, NASA’s $2.5 billion Mars rover Curiosity (carried by the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft) touched down safely in the Red Planet’s Gale Crater at 10:32pm Pacific Time last night. But for us, watching NASA’s livestream of the engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., was almost more fun than the landing itself. If you couldn’t stay up for the event — or just spaced out at any point— here are the most adorkable team-bonding moments from the control room.
(MORE: Wheels Down on The Red Planet)
The Mohawk: Curiosity’s mission was hairy enough, but in the walkup to the landing, a red-and-blue-striped mohawk was the star of the livestream. It belongs to Bobak Ferdowsi, the Mars Science Laboratory’s Flight Director, and almost immediately, space geeks tracked down his Twitter feed, @TweetsOutLoud, and started making memes.
The Peanuts: As the rover made its descent, engineers popped open specially labeled jars of peanuts for good luck. The tradition dates back to 1967, when NASA’s Ranger 7 became the first spacecraft to successfully send photos of the lunar surface back to Earth. When control room staffers saw a colleague eating peanuts, they credited the snack for bringing them luck.
The Hilariously Failed High-Fives: The spacecraft jockeys of the NASA control room can sure execute a Mars landing, but they have a bit of trouble with their hand jive. Here, a couple of team members court disaster while executing a high-five. Abort!
The Polo Shirts: The control room staff wore matching “Curiosity Landing” blue polo shirts that depicted a sky crane dangling Curiosity — the so-called “7 Minutes of Terror” segment of the craft’s daring landing.
Hey, It’s Will.i.am! Here’s a photo of musician Will.i.am being briefed yesterday about Mars Science Laboratory by NASA chief scientist Jim Garvin. The Black Eyed Peas frontman hopes Curiosity’s journey will inspire more young people to pursue science and technology careers. He also claims he wrote a song about the landing.
Curiosity Tweets: The Mars rover has a Twitter feed, and NewsFeed breathed a sigh of relief when it tweeted from the Red Planet:
PHOTOS: Inside The Mars Curiosity Rover