My year on Mars as a member of the Curiosity rover team

Bethany List Ehlmann
The Guardian

"EUL?" "Go"

"SOWG chair?" "Go" 

"I am the TUL, I am Go" 

"Mission Manager?" "Go."

The familiar cadence of call and response causes a rise of expectancy and excitement even as I hear it for the 365th time. Another plan for another day, declared ready for radiation to Mars.

On 5 August of last year, we were captivated for a brief moment as Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory tried to land a 1-ton Mini Cooper-sized rover on Mars using a seemingly crazy combination of parachutes, rockets, and a sky crane. And wildly succeeded as the world watched.

As a member of the science team, I paced in the back of our JPL room that night, gripping a piece of paper that became progressively more wrinkled as I listened to the landing team chatter, checking that all was going by the checklist. High fives, fist pumps, hugs, and not a few tears erupted as we heard "Curiosity is safe on Mars". Watching the inspiring video "Where were you when Curiosity landed?" brings me back to that moment.

Where were you? Millions tuned in to check out the first pictures. In what has become typical for rover missions, the only thing that crashed that night were a few of Nasa's websites, which slowed to a crawl as people, excited and curious about what this mission might bring, wanted to see the first photos from this new spot on another planet.

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