Mars Curiosity rover team prefers Macs to PCs

Twelve NASA scientists and engineers host a reddit forum where they answered anything the public wanted to know. Do they live on Mars time? Do they play Kerbal Space Program? Macs or PCs?

NASA scientists and engineers posted a photo on Curiosity's Twitter page as they prepared for their Q&A on reddit. Screenshot by Dara Kerr/CNET

If there was anything Curiosity fans wanted to know about Mars, the rover, and the scientists behind the Martian landing, they were able to ask it today.

Reddit hosted a lengthy "Ask us Anything" Q&A with 12 members of NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover science and engineering team. And, yes, it included the " Mohawk guy ."

Dozens of topics were covered, from whether there is life on Mars to how far Curiosity will roam within the Gale Crater to specifications of the equipment on the rover. At the time of this writing, there is a total of 8,367 comments on the discussion thread.

While the science questions are interesting and illuminating, the fun part of this discussion is the topics not typically covered in news stories -- like, do the engineers prefer Macs or PCs?

"In this room: 12 Mac, 3 PCs," fault protection engineer Magdy Bareh responded.

What about a bit of trivia about Curiosity that everybody should know?

"It's got a friggin' laser on its head, that can VAPORIZE rocks!" surface systems engineer Eric Blood wrote.

And how did the scientists celebrate the landing?

"To each his own...Tasty beverages, missed high-fives, well-deserved naps after shifts were over. :D," wrote Steve Sell, the deputy operations lead for the rover's entry, descent and landing.

Other amusing aspects included the fact that a few team members "love" to play the game Kerbal Space Program, and all of the NASA operators (engineers, scientists, drivers, planners) live on Mars time, which is 40 minutes longer than an Earth day. "It is a bit painful...we re-program our alarm clocks every day," Bareh wrote.

Fans also learned that pyro system engineer Rob Zimmerman loves Bob Dylan (as do his parents, hence the similarity to Dylan's birth name), and that system engineer Steve Collins doesn't mind the comparisons that people have made between him and the wacky longhaired scientist from the movie "Independence Day."

Although the scientists continued to answer people's questions extensively, they still didn't have time to get to everyone. As they signed off they wrote, "We're unimpressed that we couldn't answer all of your questions in time! We're planning another with our science team eventually. It's like herding cats working 24.5 hours a day. ;)."

About the author

Dara Kerr, a freelance journalist based in the Bay Area, is fascinated by robots, supercomputers and Internet memes. When not writing about technology and modernity, she likes to travel to far-off countries.

 

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