California Space Grant Student Reflections on the MSL Landing

Two California Space Grant JPL interns were able to view the MSL landing among JPL scientists, engineers, and staff. Here’s what they had to say about their experience:

Tanya Das

“On the evening of Sunday August 5th, I sat down in the Pasadena Civic Auditorium with hundreds of other JPL employees, scientists, and members of the curious general public, to sit and watch together as NASA attempted to land Curiosity on Mars. I was excited to see scientist Bill Nye as the opening speaker for the event, as I grew up watching his TV show, “Bill Nye the Science Guy!” as a child. The combination of the presence of (to me) such a high-profile celebrity and the general atmosphere of excitement and anticipation had me feeling extremely intimidated. Landing a rover the size of a car on Mars – wow! That sound complicated, requiring lots of hard work, patience, and intelligence.

“However, after listening to the JPL engineers go into details about the technical specifications of the landing mechanism and scientific instruments on Curiosity, I gradually realized what I was actually hearing. While landing a car-sized rover on Mars is completely extraordinary, it also is completely achievable. There is so much work that goes into this one event! Just seeing the numerous engineers gathered in the Mission Control room at JPL, and knowing that there were many more who contributed to this project but were not on TV, I began to feel as if this was something even I could contribute to. I sometimes doubt if I could ever be knowledgeable enough to make a meaningful contribution to such an important and complicated project as this one, but this experience shifted that outlook. After witnessing the accomplishments of the JPL scientists and engineers, I have greater faith in my ability to make an equally meaningful contribution to society, and I am very thankful to the California Space Grant for making it possible for me to witness this event and come to this realization.” –Tanya Das


Guadalupe Banales

Guadalupe and Bill Nye the Science Guy

“I feel very fortunate to intern at JPL during this exciting time. Curiosity’s landing was a perfect demonstration of how hard work and ingenuity can pay off. Its great seeing all of JPL celebrate and in a feeling of elation. I was able to watch the landing with 1500 other people at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium and when the confirmation of safe touchdown was announced, everyone in the crowd stood up and cheered. It was very exciting! I feel more motivated to work harder in school, and hopefully get hired at JPL full time when I graduate in 2013.”– Guadalupe Banales