KPCC reporters have been talking to Southland scientists and engineers and counting down the days until NASA's most ambitious rover yet — Curiosity — prepares to land on the Martian surface. Follow the series online.
Few were able to witness the landing of the Mars rover Curiosity from inside NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena — the best seats in the house were largely reserved for NASA’s technicians and media. But a few surprising faces showed up to watch the “seven minutes of terror,” including actor Seth Green.
Green, an admitted “space nerd,” said he “jumped at the chance” to head over to JPL to watch the landing Sunday night/Monday morning.
“I can’t speak for everyone else ... but the couple people I’ve engaged with are all excited, a little nervous, there’s some anxiety in the air, just counting down time,” he said. “Nobody can do anything except watch, so you just want it to go well.”
Giving credit where credit is due, Green pointed out that since he “didn’t have to build ... vet out ... or launch” Curiosity, all he has to do is watch and enjoy the night’s historic event. He did, however, say he was “optimistic and confident.”
“JPL is a pretty badass place, they build some awesome stuff, and any previous missteps with landing on Mars aside, they have a pretty good track record,” Green said. “We’re a really young species, we’re gonna make a lot of mistakes — everybody forgets that. We’re flying through space, but we’re really just a bunch of meat sacks with brains.”
The Curiosity landing, the anticipation and the eventual elation surrounding it are reminiscent of a bygone era of space exploration, Green said.
“Everybody who was born in my generation saw the space shuttles launch and that used to be really important, it used to be something our entire country gathered around,” Green said. “It perpetuated the thought that we’re always pushing forward as a species.”