In the wee hours of the morning Jet Propulsion Laboratory pulled off PERFECTION by landing Nasa's Curiosity Mars Rover onto Mars safely. This $2.6 billion dollar project included some of the most amazing, breathtaking and flat out ballsy engineering and imagination to date. They didn't just have to REACH Mars, they had to plan step by step how they were going to get their payload, a vehicle/laboratory to the surface without damaging any of the equipment. To do this they had to build a shell that would stand the test of the heat of entry, then shed some of the shell to deploy the largest parachute ever made so the cargo's rate of entry would SLOW DOWN. That wasn't enough to do the job so they created a “sky crane” using rocket fired engines that would help slow the cargo on entry, then deploy the vehicle safely to the ground.
If even ONE step was off, the wrong angle, too high speed, the entire mission would have FAILED. I have no idea how many sleepless nights, broken engagements and divorces caused by this project, but I'm flat out amazed at the genius and ingenuity of the people who worked so tirelessly to get this job done. Well done!
Now maybe we'll finally know if there was life on Mars or water or if it would make a really GREAT sandbox.
In honor of the folks at JPL I created a little poster to commemorate the day.