Team USA geeks score with seventh successful Mars landing

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The truth is that only the United States has had the knowledge and moxie to successfully land a vehicle on Mars. We have now done it seven times, and no other nation has really come particularly close.  And with the touchdown of the one-ton and highly sophisticated Curiosity, the U.S. has reached a whole new level of expertise.

This artist's rendering shows the Mars Rover, Curiosity. NASA via AP. The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, celebrated the successful landing in Pasadena, California.

Given that reality, there was actually little crowing about the achievement — more amazement, joy and relief.  You could see it in the tears of Adam Steltzner, the rock star lead of the landing team. You could see it in the bursting emotion as scores of hardcore engineers streamed into an after-landing press conference and whooped and hollered and high-fived with all the leaders of the mission. And you could hear it in the frequent nods to German and French and Russian and Canadian and Spanish partners who helped design and make quite a few of the science instruments. …

The transported joy of a vast team of engineers and scientists is just not something we’re that familiar with, though goodness knows they not infrequently earn it. …

The Curiosity team nailed it big time; an achievement for the ages.

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