NASA’s Curiosity rover is just a few days away from its harrowing landing on the Martian surface (scheduled for 10:31 PDT on Sunday, August 5th), and the last few days has seen the spacecraft clear a series of pre-landing checks and have its controls switched over to autopilot.
This week during the regularly scheduled MSL science operations telecon, we got some training and guidelines for interacting with the media and sharing information about the mission online. The bottom line is, I can’t share any details of upcoming rover activities, science discussions, spacecraft health, etc. here on the blog. I can write about things that have been shown in official NASA press releases, and I can share mundane aspects of what I did on any given day (“I’m going to the APAM Meeting!” or “Getting up at 3am tomorrow for downlink.”), but I won’t be able to tell you what the science team is hoping to accomplish by driving to point X or analyzing target Y. Heck, I can’t even share the agenda for the science discussion meetings. I can tell you that I attended the meeting but that’s about it.
For those who are particularly excited about Curiosity and were hoping to see some behind-the-scenes, inside baseball-style conversations between scientists, this is pretty sad news. Anderson accepts the policy, saying that limiting news on the Martian developments to only the official channels will give scientists a sense of freedom, letting them throw out novel hypotheses or ask “dumb” questions without fear of looking silly to a wider audience.
That being said, for people wanting to keep up with Curiosity in near-real time and with as close to an inside view as possible short of being in the control room, there are the Twitter handles of a number of people who are involved with the project:
Marssciencegrad works in “science operations.”
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