Late last night, I woke up at 1:20 am to watch with JPL and NASA as we waited for Curiosity to get through its seven minutes of terror and report back via Odyssey (a satellite around Mars). It was heart-pounding. The wait was excruciating. Every little announcement of Curiosity's progress brought cautious, shaky smiles. But the tough part hadn't happened yet. It hadn't touched down.
And then it did.
I literally burst into tears and shrieked so loud that my cat ran into the room to see what in the world had gotten into me.
Setting my alarm to ensure I'd get up and see this live with everyone else was the best decision I could've ever made. The video above doesn't show the several minutes prior to the landing, where everyone is sharing in panic, but it does show the explosion of joy that people in that room and around the world shared together at the same moment. It also doesn't show the repeat of the celebratory screams and shouts as the very first picture arrives of Curiosity sitting on Mars. (I burst into tears again when that came in. Not at all ashamed to admit it.) It was amazing to be a part of that emotional rollercoaster.
Who says we're past the days when space exploration can be inspiring? Who says no one really cares anymore?
I was on Twitter last night with thousands, if not millions, of people all watching this same event, all celebrating this landing.
This was the most inspiring thing I've witnessed in a long, long time.
We did it. Humans did this. We sat down and put our minds to it, and we landed a massive science laboratory on a planet millions of miles away without it breaking. This restores my faith in us as a species. We can actually use these big brains of ours to do something not only non-violent, but something that allows for greater learning.
I love science. And I love the people who devote their lives to it. There's a child-like innocence left in us, and this is where it shows up the best. Congratulations, JPL and NASA. This entire feat is beyond amazing.
EDIT: Friend found a video of ten whole minutes surrounding the landing, so if you want to get more of a feel for what was happening last night, watch here!