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Click button to listen to Curiosity and rightclick to downloadJoy after seven minutes of terror at NASA lab
By Romain Raynaldy (AFP) PASADENA, California — After years of hard work and seven minutes of terror, workers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory let out their tears of joy."Touchdown confirmed," said a member of mission control at the laboratory as the room erupted in cheers at the touchdown of their $2.5-billion Mars Science Laboratory and Curiosity rover on the surface of the Red Planet, breaking new ground in the US-led search for signs of alien life."We are wheels down on Mars. Oh, my God!"
Just minutes before that, a small control room packed with mission specialists had plunged into anguished silence as everyone watched images on the screens of the main control room, where all present could follow Curiosity's progress step by step.
"Seven minutes of terror" was how NASA characterised the extremely sophisticated operation that preceded the actual landing.An initial round of applause came when Curiosity sent its first signal before entering the Martian atmosphere.A second sigh of relief was when the ship opened its parachute.But the most difficult part was yet to come: the vessel had to stabilise before an overhead crane, using nylon cables, gently placed Curiosity on the Martian soil – an operation that had never before been conducted.At 10:32 pm local time (0532 GMT) this was accomplished and cries of joys filled the JPL.The joy was palpable in the newsroom as project managers passed around Mars chocolate bars to employees, the JPL's "shadow army" of people who never appeared on cameras but worked doggedly for eight years to make this historic moment possible.Intoxicated by their success, the JPL workers – all dressed in commemorative blue polo shirts with "August 5" embroidered on the heart – poured into the press conference room.When the mission managers rose to the podium, the "blue shirts" rose as well, waving small American flags and chanting "EDL! EDL! EDL!" for the Entry, Descent, Landing team.Those were a few minutes of joyful chaos, where every employee did a high-five with their supervisors, including Adam Steltzner, head of the EDL, who would dissolve in tears a few minutes later.Beth Fabinsky, an engineer at JPL, said that when the magic word "contact' was uttered, she had an extraordinary feeling.
"It was amazing, better than we could have ever expected," Fabinsky told AFP. "I've been on a few missions where we've had success and that feeling beats anything I can imagine in my life yet."Everybody was terrified because this is the most complex mission that JPL has ever endeavored," she recalled. "There are so many things that could have gone wrong and they didn't and that was amazing. The fact that this one succeeded, it's got a little bit of miracle in it. So we're all thankful."Gurkirpal Singh, who designed the guidance system for the last minute of descent, said he hardly had time to react."It was picture perfect," he said. "It was better than we could have ever hoped for.propulsion – the force that moves or pushes something forward แรงขับเคลื่อนlaboratory – a room or building used for scientific research, experiments, testing, etc ห้องปฏิบัติการ, ห้องทดลองMars – the planet in the solar system that is fourth in order of distance from the sun, between the Earth and Jupiter ดาวอังคารcuriosity – a strong desire to know about something ความอยากรู้rover – a small vehicle used by astronauts for travelling on the surface of a planetsurface – the outside or top layer of something ผิวหน้า, ผิวภายนอก, ด้านนอกterror – a feeling of extreme fear ความหวาดกลัวtouchdown – the moment when an aircraft lands on the ground การลงสู่พื้นของเครื่องบินmission control – a group of people who control a space flight from the ground, or the place where they do thiserupt – to start suddenly ปะทุขึ้นbreak new ground – to do something completely different from what has been done before แหวกแนวalien – a creature from another world คนต่างด้าวspecialist – a person who is an expert in a particular area of work or study ผู้ชำนาญเฉพาะทางplunge into silence – to suddenly become very quietanguished – feeling painful emotions ทรมาณทางจิตใจimage – the picture that you see on a computer or television screen, or in a cinema ภาพ, ภาพบนจอpresent – being in a particular place or situation เข้าร่วม, อยู่progress – the process of developing or of getting nearer to achieving or completing something ความคืบหน้าcharacterise – to describe someone or something in a particular way บรรยายอุปนิสัย, แสดงลักษณะsophisticated – complicated and advanced in design or planning ซับซ้อนoperation – a planned activity involving a lot of people การปฏิบัติการprecede – to happen before something or come before something/somebody in order มาก่อน, อยู่หน้า, นำหน้าinitial – early; first เบื้องต้นapplause - showing enjoyment or approval of something such as a performance or speech by clapping the hands repeatedly to make a noise การปรบมือแสดงความชื่นชมatmosphere – the mixture of gases that surrounds the earth or another planet บรรยากาศsigh – to breathe out slowly making a long soft sound, especially because you are disappointed, tired, annoyed, or relaxed ถอนหายใจrelief – a feeling of happiness that something unpleasant has not happened or has ended การผ่อนคลายparachute – a device that is attached to people or objects to make them fall slowly and safely when they are dropped from an aircraft. It consists of a large piece of thin cloth that opens out in the air to form an umbrella shape ร่มชูชีพvessel – a large boat or ship, or in this case, a space vehiclestabilise – to become or to make something become firm and steady ทำให้มั่นคง to become or to make something become firm and steadycrane – a tall machine used for lifting or moving heavy objects and building tall buildings เคลื่อนที่โดยปั้นจั่นgently – carefully, without a lot of force or sudden change in movement อย่างนุ่มนวลsoil – the substance on the surface of the Earth or other planets ดินconduct – to do something in an organised way; to carry out — ลงมือทำ, ดำเนิน, ปฏิบัติlocal – in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about ท้องถิ่นaccomplish – to achieve something ทำได้สำเร็จpalpable – easily noticed by the mind or the senses ชัดเจนdoggedly – showing determination; not giving up easily อย่างแน่วแน่, อย่างดื้อรั้นhistoric – of historical importance ที่สำคัญในประวัติศาสตร์intoxicated – feeling so excited or happy about something that you cannot think clearly มัวเมาcommemorative – a done in order to remember an important person or event เป็นที่ระลึกembroider – to decorate cloth with a pattern of stitches usually using coloured thread เย็บปักถักร้อย, ปัก, ปักผ้าpress conference – an official meeting where someone makes a formal statement about a particular issue or event to journalists and answers their questions about it การแถลงข่าวpodium – a small raised area where someone stands to give a speech, conduct an orchestra, give out awards, etc. แท่น, พลับพลาchant – to keep shouting or singing a word or phrase many times โห่ร้อง, โห่ร้องต้อนรับ, ร้องเพลงchaos – a very confused situation ความโกลาหลhigh-five – the action of holding your hand up and hitting your palm flat against that of another person, when you meet them or as a way of congratulating themsupervisor – someone who is in charge of an activity, a place, or a group of people ผู้ควบคุมดูแล, หัวหน้างานdissolve in tears – to suddenly begin to cry เริ่มร้องไห้contact – a situation in which people or things touch each other การสัมผัสutter – to make a sound with your voice; to say something พูดextraordinary – very unusual and surprising เกินธรรมดา, ผิดธรรมดาimagine – to form a picture of something or someone in your mind นึกคิด, จินตนาการ, นึกฝันterrified – very frightened ตกใจ, ใจหาย, ขวัญหนีcomplex – having a lot of details or small parts that make it difficult to understand or deal with ซับซ้อนendeavor – to make an effort to do something, especially something new or difficult พยายามmiracle – an unusual and mysterious event that is thought to have been caused by a god or something not understood, or any very surprising and unexpected event which seems to be impossible เรื่องมหัศจรรย์, ปาฏิหาริย์guidance system – a device or group of devices used to navigate/control the path of a ship, aircraft, missile, rocket, satellite, or other craftreact – to behave in a particular way because of something that is happening around you or something that someone is doing to you ตอบสนอง, เกิดปฏิกิริยา