“7 Minutes of Terror” – MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

Today, in America, we have returned to the age-old thrill of stepping foot into an unknown frontier. Today, we re-ignite the pioneering spirit that has defined us since the dawn of our nation. Today, we have pushed the frontiers of scientific knowledge and human progress. Today – just hours ago – we successfully landed the largest, most advanced vehicle ever deployed to another planet… onto the surface of Mars!

This is not the first time we have sent rovers to Mars, so what makes this one so special?  Well, let this NASA video speak for itself…

Impressed?

Yeah, even Hollywood could not have made this up.

Here’s the scene from Mission Control within the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at Cal Tech during the last few minutes leading up to the touchdown of the rover, aptly named “Curiosity.” You can taste the raw anticipation of emotional triumph pervading the air! It was one of those rare moments when science superseded the excitement of watching a Super Bowl touchdown.

I could not help but get goosebumps from watching this! After having participated in several scientific field experiments, I know how nearly impossible it is for something like this to go off without a hitch!

Today is a proud moment not just for Americans, but for the world. Once again, humans have conquered the odds and have done the impossible. As a scientist myself, I can envision the countless hours of sweat, tears, and sleepless nights that countless men and women had to experience in the years leading up to this very moment. And yet, this is the type of dedication and creativity that the entire world looks up to, regardless of politics and national interests.

This is an accomplishment we do not need to defend with weapons, for it was an intellectual war won with human ingenuity that nobody can take away. Back in June, I had the opportunity to speak with the Science Advisor to Secretary Clinton in the Department of State, and he emphasized the reality of science as a tool for diplomacy. Here now is an example of extraterrestrial innovation being one such tool of inspiration at home and abroad.

There is nothing more inspiring than to see tangible proof that the sky is no longer the limit – only our imagination is.

So congratulations, NASA! Once again, you have elevated the bar to which the human spirit can reach. You have inspired us all.

Yet, this is only the beginning, summed up by the monotone voice in the JPL Mission Control room who left us with these final words amid the din of celebration:

“Now, to see where our Curiosity will take us…!”

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