Whoever said scientists and engineers are not emotional? Tonight gives lie to that old canard. Jubilation, tears, and hugs burst out in the control room at JPL as Curiosity landed successfully. It was a wonderful thing to behold, because no one deserves success more than this hard-working and dedicated group from JPL, responsible for sending a rover the size of a car to Mars.
Everything appeared to go flawlessly. We've been hearing for months how risky the new landing system was, how we might not hear anything for several hours, how images would be long in coming. But when it happened, it was smooth as silk. Everything right on schedule. No moments of terror, let alone seven minutes of terror. And the images came right away, including the shadow of the rover on Mars.
These engineers made it look easy. They showed us that the best way to deal with the terrifying possibility of failure is meticulous preparation, testing and retesting, bringing a lot of great minds together. Mars is a dangerous place. It has killed many of our space vehicles. It tests us every time. This landing tonight shows we still have the right stuff. Let's hope we use it, to plan and execute future missions. A great nation explores.
Tonight is just the beginning. The best is yet to come. Pictures of Mars from Gale Crater, images as Curiosity heads for a mountain that rivals Earth's tallest peaks. Information will flood in from Curiosity the field geologist and geochemist. Perhaps we will learn if the molecules we associate with life here ever existed on Mars. And then we will begin to sort out if we really are alone or if life once existed elsewhere.
A great evening. Curiosity is safely on the surface of Mars. Good night, Curiosity. Get some rest. You have a lot of work to do.