As the country waits with bated breath to learn if NASA’s Curiosity rover successfully landed on Mars, what better event to connect the two coasts? 1,700 people in Pasadena’s Convention Center stood on their chairs and waved their hands in the air with frantic excitement as their faces were displayed on the Toshiba Jumbotron in New York City.
The landing in Times Square drew people from all over the city from 11:30 p.m., when the coverage began, until past the expected landing time at 1:31 a.m.
Photos: Mars rover mission
The excitement in the room signifies one fact: the public is still excited about the prospect of space exploration. “My friends, this is a shared experience. This is humankind at its best,” said Bill Nye, chief executive of Planetfest.
A collaborative mural with the simple phrase, “Hi NYC,” was held up above the seats as people collectively counted down in anticipation of going live in Times Square, much like New York’s famous New Year’s tradition.
Moments later, the once animated crowd sits silent, awaiting any news pertaining to the rover’s flight. It is now a matter of waiting, as the engineers at NASA have already sent their final commands to the rover, leaving the fate of the machine to its programming and to sheer chance.
“I have a brother in New York right now, and he’s actually in Times Square watching too. So it’s like we are seeing this all unfold together,” said Planetfest attendee Sam Fischer.
“It feels like we have all come together through this.”
MORE ON THE MISSION TO MARS:
Mars' Mt. Sharp comes into focus
Interactive: Curiosity: Liftoff to landing
NASA satellite photo shows Mars rover, parachute out, on descent