Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 12:40 p.m.
A few weeks ago, my roommate and I decided to take a late-night bike ride up the West Side Highway. It was around midnight when we hit 59th Street and headed east towards Central Park. Dangerous, yes, but the air was calm until we decided to advance on the brilliant idea of biking through Times Square to head back Downtown to home base. Somehow, at that time of night, there were hundreds, if not thousands, of gawking pedestrians, amazed by the lights and sounds of the commercial hub. Given, it was almost 1am on a Wednesday night.
Why bring up this experience? We all know the pains of Times Square; it's become that cliche criticism of tourists - "Ugh.... I HATE Times Square." We get it. But here's an amazing reason
to check out 42nd Street and up tonight:
The Mars Rover known as Curiosity will be completing
its eight-month journey across the galaxy and everyone in Times Square and beyond will be able to watch it on the Toshiba Vision screen (it's one of those, uhm, big flashy screens... just look where everyone else is looking). At around 11:30pm, the screen will flash to the event as our Rover lands on the Red Planet. It's not until 1:31am, though, that the exploratory device is set to land; from then on, pictures will be taken immediately and will flash across the screen until 4am.
We're trying very, very hard to keep our inner geek excitement from bursting out.
Curiosity's trip is the most expensive mission the space agency has conducted to date. The Toshiba Vision screen will be streaming the scene from NASA's Mission Control at their Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Cali's Pasadena.
A word from NASA spokeswoman Sarah Ramsey on the feelings there
: "We're NASA, we do big things. But this is the largest Rover we've ever put on Mars. This is a car-sized rover."
The sedan-esque device will have to slow down from 13,200 miles per hour to 2 miles per hour in seven minutes as it lands - if that doesn't give you goosebumps, you may not have a soul. And, to top it all off, NASA employees are calling the landing 'The Seven Minutes of Terror' because, with the eons of distance between Mars and Earth, the landing is self-controlled by the Rover.
Also, if you can't make this intergalactic voyage tonight, there are plenty of other locations where people will be raging all night long. NASA has a list of them here
. And Curiosity will be hanging out on Mars for the next two years, discovering the secrets of the Universe and whatnot. So you're good for some time.
If you can make it, well, we'll see you on the dark side of the Moon.