Curiosity, the biggest, heaviest and most complex rover, landed successfully on Mars this evening.
To the scientists, engineers, managers, directors, vice presidential types, to the security guard at the front gate of JPL in Pasadena, the lady in HR that makes the badges for people at JPL, the custodians that empty the trash, vacuum carpets, wax the hall floors, the cooks and dishwashers in the cafeteria, the lady running the cash register, and the truck drivers that moved things to JPL where Curiosity was put together, the tanker truck drivers that filled the gas stations where the parts trucks stopped to fill up along the highway, the Police that kept the highways open, the people who made the cars that the Police drove, the pilots that flew subassemblies around for testing, the motel manager near the desert testing facility where the engineers stayed during the “wheels in sand” tests, the guy frying burgers and mixing the shakes at the nearby Burger King where those engineers ate lunch, and, oh yeah, to all you who paid taxes to fund the whole operation, to all of you and easily several hundred other jobs and tens of thousands of individuals, thank you.
All of you helped make this happen.
You all played a part.
You did your job.
You did something and, because of it, the future will be different.
In August of 2006, I taught a small group of engineers at JPL in Pasadena how to use the VxWorks operating system that provides the foundation on which all of Curiosity’s software runs. Some of those engineers may have programmed portions of the entry and landing that took place this evening. And some of them may have programmed portions of the system that will be running experiments and reporting results now that Curiosity is there.
And while I made no direct contribution by writing code for Curiosity, what I did was my part, just like the cook in the cafeteria, the truck drivers and everyone else who did their job.
Well done, all!
And now, Curiosity begins doing what it was meant to do.