As well as seeing a friend off in the wee hours of the morning, the other reason I didn't get much sleep last night was due to staying up until 02:00 to watch NASA's Curiosity Mars Science Laboratory launch!
Best. Mission title. Ever.
From NASA's website, accompanying their photo of the day of the launch:
The Atlantic Ocean provides a backdrop as the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket clears the tower at Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Sealed inside the rocket’s protective payload fairing is NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft, beginning a 9-month interplanetary cruise to Mars. Liftoff was at 10:02 a.m. EST Nov. 26. MSL’s components include a car-sized rover, Curiosity, which has 10 science instruments designed to search for signs of life, including methane, and help determine if the gas is from a biological or geological source.
You read that right, the size of a car. Whereas Spirit and Opportunity were far larger than the original little Mars rover, this is another step up entirely. I'm quivering with anticipation over what it will teach us, assuming it's voyage to Mars is without incident. This is the stuff of dreams right here ^_^.
Live from bed
Whereas during STS-135 I watched with baited breath on my MacBook Pro, this time I elected to witness the event on my iTelephone, which the NASA site accommodated with an iOS link next to the primary video feed.
Despite being roughly half a minute behind the live picture during the feed, I got a quiet, giddy thrill from watching the launch in a darkened room, from my bed, with my iTelephone in hand. For the first time in ages, I felt like I was living in the future.
The most breathtaking screenshot I took above was unfortunately burdened with all the chrome of the iPhone superimposed on it, but the shots below I got without anything else. The picture quality was incredible.