Mars 5 August, 2012- At 2233 HRS PST the NASA rover Curiosity landed safely on Mars. At 50 million miles it was about 200 meters off target. About 30 minutes to touch down, controllers at the Pasadena Jet Propulsion Laboratory disconnected control of Curiosity. Becoming the ultimate in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Curiosity then flew herself to a perfect landing.
The rover is the size of a compact car equipped with all sorts of gadgets to allow it to explore Mars as a Geologist, a Chemist and a Biologist. It’s two year mission will be to search and study evidence of water in the Martian past.
The robot is much more autonomous than it’s earlier sisters. JPL controllers will send “suggestions” to Curiosity as to where she should go. It will be up to her to decide the best way to get there and controllers will monitor her reports of the mission. Should she stumble upon signs of life she has a complete biological suite to determine once and for all if Life had ever been on the planet.
The price tag for the two year mission is 2.6 Billion dollars.
This is the Lucky Puppy so we celebrate this historic event in our own um…..idiom.
So here’s a challenge to all those photoshoppers out there. Use our blank picture below to make a sign of your own or let your imagination and skills fly. Send us what you make. We’d Love t.o see it
When American Airlines Flight 1900 could not raise the tower at Reagan International Airport, the controller at the Potomac Terminal Radar Approach tries to help.
Here are some highlights….
Potomac: “Just so you’re aware, the tower is apparently not manned. We’ve made a few phone calls. No one’s answered. … So you can expect to go in as an uncontrolled airport.”
American 1900: “Is there a reason it’s not manned?”
Potomac: “I’m going to take a guess and say that the controller got locked out. I’ve heard of this happening before.”
Two airliners had to conduct unassisted landings because the only person pulling the over night shift in the tower has fallen asleep. Authorities have suspended the controller (a supervisor) while the incident is investigated.
Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Randy Babbitt said.
“As a former airline pilot, I am personally outraged that this controller did not meet his responsibility to help land these two airplanes,. I am determined to get to the bottom of this situation for the safety of the traveling public.”
On Wednesday, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood directed FAA to launch a nationwide study of airport tower staffing. He also directed that at least two controllers be on duty at night at Reagan, which is located just across the Potomac River from Washington in Northern Virginia.
“It is not acceptable to have just one controller in the tower managing air traffic in this critical air space,” LaHood said.
The head of the union that represents air traffic controllers praised LaHood’s actions, saying changes in staffing are needed.