By Nicole Casal Moore
As they waited for the landing of the heaviest and most sophisticated Mars rover, 100-plus people crossed their fingers and ate NASA's good luck snack---peanuts. And it worked.
The Mars Science Laboratory's unprecedented and precarious landing procedure unfolded as NASA engineers had designed.
At the landing party hosted by AOSS and SPRL, attendees erupted in applause and laughter when they got word that the craft arrived safely. Professor Nilton Renno emailed his reaction from mission control in Pasadena. It was one word: "Unbelievable!"
"Besides the Apollo mission, this is the most complicated thing we've done in space," said Michigan Engineering Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education Alec Gallimore. "I've always dreamed about sending people to Mars, and, frankly, this gets us one step closer."
"We’re all really deeply invested in these kinds of missions, so this is exciting," AOSS doctoral student Shannon Curry said. "The fact that they used a sky crane made it seem fictional. This has been a technologically defining moment for us going forward. A lot of technology and innovation went into this. If this is the tip of the iceberg for the Mars Exploration Program, I can't wait for the next 20 years."