Neil deGrasse Tyson has a chat with the Curiosity Rover on Twitter
NDT: Neil deGrasse Tyson here on Earth, tweeting you, via a wormhole, through deep space. Do you copy?
CR: I read you loud and clear. 5x5
NDT: How does it feel out there as you near planet Mars? Are you Cold? Hot? Or just right?
CR: I’m snug as a bug in a backshell. My MMRTG gives power & heat. So much so, I use radiators to keep temps just right
NDT: What exactly is giving power to your Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator?
CR: MMRTG is powered by plutonium-238. I use thermocouples to convert heat from its natural decay to electric current
NDT: just as I suspected. An element named after Pluto. Discovered when everyone thought the little iceball was a planet.
CR: for being millions of miles away it’s faster than say… some TV broadcasts from London to Los Angeles ;-)
NDT: What’s the size of your landing spot on Mars? Is it small? It’s a whole planet, I’d be happy just to land anywhere.
NDT: You call EDL 7-minutes of terror. Sure, to you. But to us on Earth, it’s 7 minutes + 15 minutes signal time.
CR: target area is 12 miles x 4 miles, right next door to some of Mars’ most intriguing rocks & soil
NDT: Are all your parts working as they should? Anything you’re not telling us back here on Earth? (I won’t tell JPL.)
CR: all that’s been checked out, checks out. Got a lot of calibrations & checkouts to do once I’m on the surface
NDT: Wait a minute. You travelled a 100-million miles in space & hit an area 12x4 miles? Cool. Way better than a hole-in-one
NDT: You’ve been traveling for nine months. How did you pass your time? Did they let you play “Angry Birds Space”?
CR: epic game of “I Spy,” lots of Bowie. Well, that and science. I took radiation readings with my RAD instrument
NDT: So you’re being subjected to ionizing radiation from space? You’re not only a robot, you’re a guinea pig.
NDT: Did you enjoy long periods of silence while travelling through space, or was JPL always trying to talk to you?
CR: They respected my space (ha ha). I love hearing from the Deep Space Network, tho. It keeps me grounded
NDT: How autonomous are you? When you get to Mars can you just go six-wheeling around as you please?
CR: while I can do short autonomous drives, longer sequences are sent by the team. Wonder if they’ll let me do donuts?
NDT: What’s your favorite experiment that you will conduct on Mars? Or is that like picking your favorite child?
CR: Pick between sniffing Mars with SAM, digesting soil with Chemin or zapping rocks with ChemCam?? #TooMuchAwesome
NDT: Scientists conceived you, engineers designed you. But seriously, who do you like better, Scientists or Engineers?
CR: Scientists v Engineers? I’m staying out of that one. We’ve all gotta work together for a lonnnng time
NDT: After you land on Mars, what’s your life expectancy? (I hope somebody alerted you that we’re not bringing you back.)
CR: My warranty is 1 Martian year (23 Earth months). @MarsRovers were designed for 90-day missions… #8yearslater
NDT: You’re the size of an SUV, but with six wheels. What’s the fastest that you can move?
CR: Top speed = 1.5 inches/sec on flat, hard ground. I’m not out to set Mars land speed records. I brake for science
NDT: Bummer. You travel through space at seven miles per second, only to drive around on Mars at 1.5 inches per second.
NDT: What are your instructions if a Martian crawls onto your back and rides you like a Rodeo Bull?
CR: Martians? RODEO BULL? That wasn’t in the briefing. But you never know what you’ll find on a mission of discovery
NDT: We’ve got the #Olympics back here on Earth. But many of us will be focussed on you and your landing. Do us proud.
NDT: As for your complicated landing on Mars Sunday night 10:30pm PT — do not try, do.
CR: like #Olympic athletes, I have a great team behind me. Time to stick the landing
NDT: Neil deGrasse Tyson signing out on Earth. Back to work - for us both. Closing my Twitterverse wormhole to Mars.
CR: I’ve got @NASAJPL on the other line. Back to work indeed. This was fun :D <wormhole deactivated>
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