This weekend, while Colin Farrell was busy driving hover cars, dodging futuristic killers, and not going to Mars like his predecessor did Total Recall, something from this Earth did make the 154 million mile trip and land safely on the planet’s surface. NASA’s Curiosity rover successful touched down on Mars—hooray! While we don’t know how this will affect pop culture in years to come—will we have to change the way we portray the Red Planet? Any John Carters up there?—there are ways to enjoy the Curiosity’s journey right now.
1. Hear Just How Tricky That Landing Was to Pull Off.
Here, scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory explain what has to happen during the “seven minutes of terror,” or the period between the rover hitting Mars’ atmosphere and touching down on the surface, in order to have a successful landing. Watch the video below to hear how they dealt with 1,600-degree heat, little atmosphere, supersonic parachutes, and sky cranes.
2. Celebrate with the Scientists
We now know that, of course, the rover landed safely “We landed in a nice flat spot. Beautiful, really beautiful,” engineer Adam Steltzner told Alicia Chang of the Associated Press. If you really want to feel like you were a part of the action, you can watch the video of the NASA’s Pasadena crew and erupt into cheers when they get the official word that everything was hunky dory. (This video is perfect for an early-work-week pick-me-up.)
3. See Some of the First Photos the Curiosity Sent Back
NASA already has some of the Curiosity’s first images up in a gallery on its website. The rover has taken a few pictures of the view around it, including one that captures its own shadow, which I find incredibly cute in a WALL-E sort of way. Higher resolution images and color photos are still to come, so keep an eye out on this page.
4. Follow the Rover on Twitter.
Because of course it has a Twitter account. From its Twitter feed it seemed pretty calm during that whole seven-minutes-of-terror thing, starting off with a brezy, “Guided entry is begun. Here I go!” But we can’t blame it for being a little boastful after the landing: “I’m safely on the surface of Mars. GALE CRATER I AM IN YOU!!!”