NASA Used Tons of Macs & iPads for Mars Curiosity Landing

Aug 6, 2012 - 25 Comments

Mars Curiosity Rover and Lander render, with Apple logo

Any Mac fan watching the Mars Curiosity landing last night probably noticed the abundance of glowing Apple logos on the desks of NASA engineers and scientists. Exactly how all the Macs participated in managing Curiosity from millions of miles away is unknown, but the overwhelming presence of MacBook Pro’s should tell you they played an important enough role to make any Apple fan proud.

NASA MSL team and MacBook Pros

The table at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory warroom is nothing but MacBook Pro:

MacBook Pros at NASA Jet Propulsion Lab

It wasn’t just MacBook Pro’s though, if you looked closely enough you’d have seen an iPad or two thrown in there as well. Here’s a NASA employee typing on one during the media event:

NASA Mars Curiosity worker using iPad

And another MacBook Pro:

MacBook Pro at NASA Mars Curiosity landing

Sure, there were PC’s in there too, but who cares? Watching the awe-inspiring event was like a live Mac Setups post on steroids. Every once in a while you’d get a glimpse of a MacBook Pro screen and you could see an array of familiar icons in the Dock including Xcode, Preview, Chrome, Firefox, Aperture, Parallels, and more.

Maybe Apple should focus on that in a new series of ads rather than feature the awkward genius guy? “We help to explore Mars, what amazing thing would you like to do today?”

Pictures from the NASA live stream and Flickr


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Fun, Mac Setups


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  1. James Lee says:

    I saw not just an iPad there but also a 12″ PowerBook G4! Look closely at the laptops. Most are the unibody MBPs with the black keyboard but one of them is a 4:3 sized laptop with a silver keyboard. Thats the baby PBG4! Nice to see one still kicking around in a mission critical situation.

  2. Monty says:

    Um, all kinds of wrong. The viewing experience was mainly on Mac, but that is not the OS or the format for programming. NASA uses a mix including an OS that was specifically designed for them. I can say with certainty that Mac is not the official OS of NASA. Mac is great if you want to plug in a scanner but if you think that same intuitiveness launches rockets into space you are out of your mind. P.S. the greatest hackers in the world use PC. Wanna know why? Because PC is endlessly customizable. Mac does everything for you, for sure. But if you know your way around an OS or actually know how to use a computer (I’m talking HARDWARE here, not software) than PC is the way to go.

  3. Stanton Wederwoll says:

    At my company (15k+ employees) they allowed us to choose between a macbook pro/air or a PC. After 6 months the mac usage has exploded to grip a majority at our company. Which in turn has led to requirements that all software should be available on the mac as well.

    So all our inhouse software is now mainly developed for the Mac, and secondary for the PC.

    I am thinking that this is the future, and the NASA guys really show us it is. When W8 hits the streets I think even more people will realize the glorious advantages of owning a close to perfect system.

  4. Isidore says:

    It’s not that many years ago that in the face of huge internal dissent, NASA decreed a ‘PC only’ policy. Nice to see that they have seen sense.

    • kralnor says:

      NASA, or any tax payer funded agency for that matter, has never been known for its judicious use of money. Hell yes my assistant needs a thunderbolt display… these spreadsheets aren’t going to fill themselves in!

  5. Nooris says:

    Seems to me the iPads were not used by any of the NASA scientists. It looks like they might be reporters or bloggers taking notes at the press conference.

  6. TonyDD says:

    The Macs were there for the window dressing but the real work was done by Dell and VxWorks.,2817,2408127,00.asp

  7. NoName says:

    This story would be even more impressive if the fanboy who wrote it would have said “the overwhelming presence of MacBook Pro‚Äôs should tell you they played an important enough ROLE to make any Apple fan proud” instead of “the overwhelming presence of MacBook Pro‚Äôs should tell you they played an important enough roll to make any Apple fan proud” which shows that Apple fans can’t even SPELL!!

    • Hans says:

      wow, your awesome!

    • Kevin B. says:


      So someone who you don’t know – and therefore don’t know whether or not they’re a “fanboy” – makes one silly spelling mistake and that means all Apple fans can’t spell?!?

      Are you (wo)man enough to use your real name and put all of your writings (everything you’ve ever written) online for the rest of us to peruse for spelling mistakes? If not, go away…

      Kevin B.

    • Charlie B says:

      There is always a “hater”
      And I pity them for many reasons.

    • LOL says:

      Who needs proof reading when commenters provide a free spell check service?

    • Kr00 says:

      The words, petty, small minded, and pathetic, come to mind when reading your post. Thats what the world expects from people who can’t appreciate the better things in life. Enjoy your crappy PC experience. You obviously deserve it.

    • kralnor says:

      Your comment would have been more impressive as well if you didn’t repeat the mistake of trying to pluralize an awkward looking word by adding ” ‘s ” to the end of it.

  8. MacMitch says:

    As I understand from a friend who works as a contractor for NASA, at least with the engineers, each is given a choice for their computer, Windows, Mac, or Linux. The IT department supports standards for all these OSs. Not sure which Linux they use.

    • Charlie B says:

      I wish all companies would be that flexible. Sure it might make hiring IT people harder but the employes are happy.

    • LessLesMoreMore says:

      And so many of them seem to choose Macs. I thought NASA people were smart? They should all be using Linux. *smh*

  9. Sentinel says:

    I have 8 fingers on ipad. No need an ext keyboard. I love my ipad.

  10. Ben says:

    Personally, I’m just amazed anyone can actually type on the iPad. LOL.

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