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These journal entries were written by the Nardin Academy team during their week at JPL.

   

1/3/04 (notes from Katie and Kristen): The room was jam-packed with scientists eagerly awaiting the landing of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover, 'Spirit' on Mars. Visible on the numerous screens was a live feed from NASA TV showing the Rover's Flight Team and another showing the time left and time after events that were expected to occur. Everyone felt overwhelmed with anticipation, for so much was at stake with the landing of the rover. Scientists who had spent years preparing for the landing were caught up in the fact that it was only moments away; some spoke gravely of the 'weight of history' upon them. Hanging on every syllable from the NASA TV feed, the crowd of scientists erupted with cheers of joy with every good sign the engineers announced and waited in utter silence during the interminable minutes of uncertainty. There was a roar of happiness and congratulations as the Flight Team announced they had achieved contact with Spirit. Teams that had been bonded by years of preparation together instantly embraced one another, anticipating the scientific successes that would ensue.

We found out that the first pictures had arrived from the rover by quite a different method. We were sitting in our cubicle when Panoramic Camera crewmember ZoŽ Learner came rushing in to ask if we had seen the pictures yet. She was ecstatically out of breath, and yet we all had to run to keep up with her as we made our way to the Science Assessment room to view the first pictures Spirit had sent from Mars. The room was filled with amazement: all we could think was, 'this is Mars.' The rapidity with which the data was received was, in some ways, just as astounding as the smoothness of the landing. Also in the Science Assessment room, we watched a press conference during which Dr. Squyres announced the acquisition of pictures from the Spirit rover to the world. It was finally official that, as so many people have said with varying degrees of seriousness and giddy joy, 'We are on Mars.'

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