It’s been one week since the Mars Science Laboratory’s rover Curiosity was lowered to the surface of Mars. Since then, the world has been treated to high-res images of the Gale crater landing site, a color panorama of the Martian surface, and even a 3-D image from the planet.
Now that the celebrations have died down, the mission control team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion laboratory in Pasadena, California are settling in and sifting through the wealth of information provided by the rover. Before they can get down to doing the real work of scientific discovery, however, there are still some appearances to be made. Today, U.S. President Barack Obama called the Mars rover team to extend his congratulations.
Obama told the team he was impressed with the landing sequence for the rover and that they had “captured the attention and imagination of millions of people, not just across our country, but people all around the world.”
“What you accomplished embodies the American spirit and your passion and your commitment is making a difference,” said Obama. “And your hard work is now paying dividends, because our expectation is that Curiosity is gonna be telling us things that we did not know before and laying the groundwork for an even more audacious undertaking in the future, and that’s a human mission to the red planet.”
The president also lightened the mood a bit by joking about Martians, saying, “If, in fact, you do make contact with Martians, please let me know right away…I’ve got a lot of other things on my plate, but I suspect that will go to the top of my list. Even if they are just microbes, it will be pretty exiting”
The phone conversation with the president was live-streamed on Ustream, but if you missed it the recording of the event can be seen below.