Saturday, August 04, 2012

MSL Launch

MSL Launch MSL Launch

The Mars Science Laboratory / Curiosity rover lands on Mars tomorrow at 10:30pm Pacific time, hopefully in one piece. This seemed like a good time to post some photos of the launch last November, which I had the good fortune to watch in person at a NASA tweetup.

I've already posted photos of the rocket, the nearby wildlife refuge & beaches, and even KSC's dumpy little Press Accreditation Office. But I never got around to posting launch photos earlier because of all the ugly sensor dust; I was extremely jetlagged that morning and left the camera on shutter priority mode during the launch, so it metered on the extremely bright rocket exhaust and stopped down all the way to f/32(!!!), instead of picking a shorter exposure time like it should have done. Stopping down that far means you see every single speck of dust if your sensor isn't pristine, which mine obviously wasn't thanks to an ill-advised lens change in the middle of NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building the previous day. Naturally I was kind of disappointed when I realized how crappy my photos had turned out, but -- believe it or not -- my main goal was to watch & experience the launch in person, and the photos were an extra bonus. Even if these had turned out better, they still wouldn't capture how loud and fast and bright the launch was. Pretty sure there isn't a monitor that could display that accurately, not even your fancy Retina display.

Besides, the dust is actual NASA dust, so in a way the dust specks are really authentic. Or at least that's my story and I'm sticking to it. In any case, I've already told people I promise to take better rocket launch photos next time, which is a thing that's going to happen sooner or later.

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