Tonight, at 10:31 p.m. PDT (1:31 a.m. EDT Aug. 6) the Curiosity rover is scheduled to land on Mars. It's mission: to find signs of life. The difficulty: landing. For a primer on what's at stake, watch this short video on EDL, or the 7 minutes terror, the nail-biting time it takes for the rover to get from the top of the atmosphere to the martian surface all on its own. As everyone waits with anticipation, we'll be blogging live from the Planetary Society's Planetfest in Pasadena, California. Check back for updates.
11:29pm- The JPL press conference is now wrapping up. "Most sophisticated rover that was ever built, is now on the surface of a planet." The odds of success was 40%. The sentiment is that America is still a major leader in the space game. I'll leave you with this image of an image: fists in air on earth, looking at the rover on the red planet.
10:59pm- "We still have a job!" Strober, at the Exelis Monrovia Facility at JPL, reports hearing. Much discussion tonight of funding cuts, particularly in science.
10:48pm- Things are winding down. The nearly 2,000 people in our room here at Planetfest are starting to clear out. Hopefully in the coming years, Curiosity will continue to give us information about life on Mars.
10:39pm- Stunning images coming in. The shadow of the rover on the surface of Mars. At the Exelis Monrovia Facility at JPL, Rena Strober reports they're passing out sparkling cider, chanting "USA!" and "We did it!" Here at Planetfest a kid, lingering in the back of the large conference hall, covers his ears from the noise. He's up past his bedtime with pillow in hand.
10:35pm- Touchdown! First images sent back from Mars. The room is on their feet. Everyone is chanting "JPL! JPL! Planet Earth! Planet Earth!"
10:31pm- Anticipated time of arrival. Parachute fired, applause across the board. They are doing power descent now. 40 meters!
10:26pm- All going well. Applause. On target. There is a connection but no data yet. Image of security brief at JPL.
10:21pm- A source, Rena Strober, at the Exelis Monrovia Facility at JPL reports that everyone just ate peanuts. "It's a crazy tradition," she writes. They are watching live feed from Curiosity.
10:17pm- Mars is currently pulling the Curiosity rover in. We now wait for signal of success. So far, everything is going well. If lucky, we'll get some pictures from the rover after landing. The room here is quiet and tense.
10:13pm- If all has gone well, the rover has already detached from its parachute on Mars. We wait to hear the "tone" of success from the rover. Watching NASA live. They are picking up "heartbeat" tones. "Things are looking good," reports from JPL.
10:04pm- Hundreds of people here gathered at Planetfest. We skyped live with Times Square in New York and Toronto. Bill Nye the Science Guy gave a shout-out for this epic human moment.