We Landed on Mars!

We Landed on Mars!



Well, we didn’t really land on Mars, but the $2.5B Curiosity unmanned rover recently did – on August 6, 2012, and THL was on site in Florida when the vehicle came online.

The featured image is actually a digital postcard of me just outside the NASA Kennedy Space Center’s “Mars Room”, where a computer digitally merged a webcam photo of my face into the image of what a future NASA astronaut may look like, on the surface of Mars.  2012 marks the 50′th anniversary of the space center, in addition to being the last year of the US Space Shuttle program, which is regarded by many to be the greatest US achievement in space technology, aside from landing on the moon.

The shuttle program was designed to be an economical way to reuse most of the parts of the launch vehicle while at the same time being able to carry more payload and more passengers safely.  See here a cool NASA moving space shuttle model, that is around 3 or 4 feet tall (talk about an awesome idea for a Lego Mindstorm project).

Moving space shuttle model at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center launch site

Future launch vehicles will likely return to the older typical rocket form factor, and will be operated commercially, with government support.  THL was on-site at the USSEF in Washington DC to see one of the first future rocket designs, the Orion, produced by Lockheed Martin (see below a pic from our blog at the USSEF).

New Orion spacecraft, set to replace the space shuttle, was featured at the USSEF in Washington, DC, along with THL’s 2012 book launch

Note this picture of an early Apollo era spacecraft, and its similarity to the Orion above

While man has not yet ever actually landed on Mars, the US has sent a number of rovers to explore the surface of Mars.  NASA recently sent a brand new robotic land rover, named Curiosity, which traveled over 354 million miles, smacking into Mars at over 13,000 mph (taking 8.5 months of travel), which offers some of the highest resolution imaging of the surface of Mars, in a vehicle that is stronger, with longer lasting batteries and more powerful sensing instruments than its various predecessors (2 others in recent history, see below).   NASA, an organization which strongly supports STEM education about current technology, has already installed an exhibit about Curiosity at the Kennedy Space Center education hall, within one day of landing.

New Curiosity Exhibit at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center “Mars Room”

In recent days, there has been a buzz in the news about some photographs taken by the Mars Rover, which happened to capture Curiosity’s crash landing in the distance.   It is incredibly difficult to land a space vehicle in a very precise region, when you’re traveling unmanned at speeds that are many times the speed of sound, let alone on another planet with a 14 minute communication delay.  Below is a JPL-animated video of the launch and landing of the Curiosity.


The Mars Curiosity Rover, part of the Mars Science Laboratory, is the largest rover sent to Mars, nearly twice as big as previous rovers.  It’s mission is to study the geology and biochemistry of Mars’ surface, with the intent of determining it’s “habitality” or livability for future manned space missions.

Sojourner, an earlier Mars Rover, was approximately the size of a microwave oven

THL’s Daedalus Graphic Novel Series, in partnership with FutureDude Comics, is “real science fiction” about interplanetary travel in the not-too-distant future within the solar system.  It was written and designed by a former engineer from NASA, Jeffrey Morris, based on real scientific information.  The predecessor to the Daedalus series, Slingshot, contains an endorsement and foreword by one of America’s most famous astronauts , Buzz Aldrin, who was on the first mission to the moon, and walked on the moon’s surface with Neil Armstrong. THL’s Venus: Daedalus One is the first in the series and is already available via our online store.  The next book in the series, THL’s Mars: Daedalus Two, which as the name implies is about mankind’s upcoming mission to land on and temporarily colonize Mars, is expected to come out in early 2013.

 Buy your copy of Venus: Daedalus One Today By Clicking On the Venus: Daedalus One graphic Below:


Artwork from THL’s Daedalus Interplanetary Space Travel Graphic Novel Series

-Barnas Monteith, Tumblehome Learning

* Note that most pictures in the above blog were taken at the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and contain images of simulations or real vehicles that are the property of NASA.