Spirit Alive at NASA

Spirit, the first of two Mars rovers designed by NASA, arrived safely on the planet shortly after its planned 8:35 PM PST scheduled landing time. Watching it on NASA TV was truly a chicken-skin event – the staff was simply elated that the mission has gone so well – a much different atmosphere than that of the Polar Lander (temporarily down) and, more recently, Beagle 2 crews. As I write this four hours later, the first images – a significant number of them – were revealed to the media at a NASA press briefing.

I was also fortunate to meet Jeff, Justin, Erik, and Sean, four NASA employees, in #maestro on FreeNode. Maestro, as reported on Slashdot, is a Java program very similar to the software JPL is using to control the rover.

It’s rare to have high-level officials in an IRC channel. I’m sure they would dispute the “high-ranking” title, but hey, they were in the lab while this moment in history was transpiring. As one participant remarked, these unofficial chats are really cool. I wouldn’t mind participating much more often in them.

I’m going to log #maestro throughout the night, and I hope to bring a condensed version of events to Waileia in a few days.