Touchdown: Space geeks and celebs watch, tweet Mars rover Curiosity landing

(Scroll down for comprehensive, chronological live coverage of Curiosity landing. This was the first image beamed from the rover at approx. 1: 35 am Eastern)

Space and science geeks online, unite!

The Mars rover Curiosity (official Twitter account here) is scheduled to reach Mars at 1:30 a.m. ET. The make-or-break landing attempt for the NASA robot comes after eight months of travel spanning 350 million miles from Earth to the Red Planet. Fans gathered at viewing parties across the country and on Twitter in anticipation. Keep refreshing this post for live updates through the night.

Actress Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed Uhura on Star Trek, is attending the official NASA viewing party:

Also on hand? Will.I.Am of the Black-Eyed Peas:

And here’s Alex Trebek!

Social media has revolutionized the space watching experience, for sure:

The #nasasocial hashtag is tracking all the online global water cooler buzz.

Everyone loves the NASA patriotic mohawk guy! Identified:

Via KPCC:

He speaks, he tweets!

Heh:

12:58am EASTERN

There’s a Times Square viewing party:

Update 1:34am Touchdown confirmed! Huge outbreak of applause, cheers, and roars in control room and around the world. Twitter blowing up:

The president’s statement:

“Tonight, on the planet Mars, the United States of America made history. The successful landing of Curiosity – the most sophisticated roving laboratory ever to land on another planet – marks an unprecedented feat of technology that will stand as a point of national pride far into the future. It proves that even the longest of odds are no match for our unique blend of ingenuity and determination.Tonight’s success, delivered by NASA, parallels our major steps forward towards a vision for a new partnership with American companies to send American astronauts into space on American spacecraft. That partnership will save taxpayer dollars while allowing NASA to do what it has always done best – push the very boundaries of human knowledge. And tonight’s success reminds us that our preeminence – not just in space, but here on Earth – depends on continuing to invest wisely in the innovation, technology, and basic research that has always made our economy the envy of the world.I congratulate and thank all the men and women of NASA who made this remarkable accomplishment a reality – and I eagerly await what Curiosity has yet to discover.”

Amid the rejoicing and White House football-spiking, some pushback against the politicization:

And many reminders on Twitter of Obama’s NASA budget cuts:

(That’s the same John Holdren, by the way, more well known for his radical population control and global warming views than for his championing of space exploration. But we digress.)

But back to Earth:

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And over to the new Gale Crater Twitter account:

Exit question:

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