Sunday, May 25, 2008

Mars landing day

After nine months of travel (across 422 million miles), the Mars Phoenix lander probe is set to touch down today on the Red Planet.

And since the entire mission is being led by scientists right here in Tucson, I reckoned I'd go on down to campus and check out the whole thing live as it happens (on NASA TV, of course).

I'm excited to experience the "will it land or will it crash?" tension that will envelope the entire seven minutes of the craft's descent through the atmosphere and dramatic slowing via rocket thrust. As the scientists themselves say, landing a spaceship on Mars is not easy. (The last successful landing of this nature, using rockets to slow descent, was accomplished on the first Mars probes, the Viking landers in 1976, just seven years after man arrived at the much closer moon.)

Anyway, it should be an interesting afternoon. And for your pleasure, here are a couple Space songs, one from our local greats Calexico, who I saw tear down the roof Friday night, when they brought out about 30 mariachi players for a stunning take on Neil Young's "Heart of Gold."

Calexico - Lost in Space (live)
Luna - Lost in Space (live)

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