One week from today, our community will be forever changed, one way or the other, no matter what. The landing of the Mars Curiosity Rover at Gale Crater occurs at 1:31 AM (Eastern Time) and it will be a history event. Curiosity is our latest flagship mission and it demands all of our attention. This feat represents the most difficult entry, descent, and landing (what is known as EDL) of a planetary science rover ever attempted, anywhere. As you may already know, the historical success rate at the planet Mars is only 40%. Although our landing percentage odds are higher (100%), successful landing with an unproven, next generation, landing system...well, that will be a white-knuckle- experience to say the least.
One short week away is the crescendo of the "Martian - Year of the Solar System." In addition to planetary's two years of success; for the MSL team, it's the culmination of over 8 long years of effort. Frankly, the future of the Mars program and perhaps planetary science is at stake. It goes without saying that we are in trying budgetary times.
Each one of us in the planetary science community should appreciate, understand, and take ownership of this event. We should discuss Curiosity's Landing to our friends, neighbors, and colleagues. Whether you are part of the Mars program or not, I encourage you to become aware of what will happen in one week and talk to your own "network" of family and friends. At the very least, watch the "7 Minutes of Terror" video on Youtube, and hear firsthand what will occur. Beginning tomorrow, an animation will be available showcasing EDL on our Eyes On Solar System website: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/eyes
An entire "toolkit" has been created to assist you in raising awareness and communicating all aspects of this incredible mission and the EDL event at: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/msl_landing.cfm
If you are hosting a landing event or are looking to participate in an event near you, please go to www.nasa.gov/mars to find a location before the landing. Or, during the landing, watch it, live, online at that same site. For Curiosity and planetary science on August 6th, one way or another, our world will not be the same.