Did I watch it?
I’ve been asked about a dozen times since Phoenix landed if I watched the landing.
Coverage was available, after all, on NASA-TV (both satellite and web feeds), and the Science Channel ran Mars footage all night, including covering the NASA TV feed. I’ve worked on a lot of Mars Stuff, and indeed Phoenix runs VxWorks 5.2 for Rad6000, a direct product of a handful of folks at Loral & JPL, and us 3 chickens at WRS (Brian, Lisa and I; I was the most-junior member of the engineering team).
But… Monaco, Indy, and Nascar all had big races going, and all the normal stuff of the Memorial Day Weekend – so many things to do. Did I watch it?
In answer… reprinted with the author’s permission (I wrote it after all) a blow-by-blow account from a personal web log of an engineer who’s worked on a lot of Mars stuff:
—— reprinted with permission from the original author, see copymark info.
[Editorial comment - this blog was updated every few minutes, each [EDIT] mark is between 1 and 5 minutes apart.]
MARS: EDL data flow starts in about 2 minutes.
Mars Ody data stream: verified.
Cruise stage separation…
verified. UHF signal acquired. Separation complete, craft on course.
T-3:30 atmospheric entry
MRO link-up soon. t-10:00 touchdown
MRO data link: confirmed
8K data rate… confirmed.
Entering atmosphere…. in 30.. 29…
Seven Minutes Of Terror: begin now.
the next few minutes, we will lose COMS as the craft generates a plasma
shock wave by it’s heat shield burning it’s way through the atmosphere.
Once we slow enough and cool down, COMS will be re-established.
Ody: drop in signal, but present.
Phoenix: at peak heating
Phoenix: we’re ready to re-establish direct COMS with Phoenix. We never lost dopler monitor from Ody.
4..3..2..1… 32K switch detected, ODY has carrier, Parachute deployed.
DATA LOCK-UP…. [Control room goes wild] Ground Velo: 90M/S
Altitude Convergence… RADAR RELIABLE @ 2000M
control room goes wild
Gravity turn detected.
… approach… slowing… not much though….
TOUCHDOWN – LANDED…
WE’RE THERE! CONGRATULATIONS to MPL’s successful landing
EDL COM: standing by…
NORMAL TERMINATION OF EDL COMS, PHOENIX HAS LANDED, we’re officially ON MARS!!!!!!!!
Folks, it’s time for some champagne!
[original work protected by creative-commons copyright. no reprinting w/o original author's permission]