Feds at work ... in bunny suits

NASA's Curiosity Cam lets you watch technicians assemble the next Mars rover

To all boomers who've spent an idle lunch hour watching cranes at a construction site: Consider yourselves warned.

Thanks to the Curiosity Cam, you can watch NASA technicians work on the next Mars rover at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. A camera, set inside the clean room where the rover is being assembled, lets visitors watch — no audio provided — the painstaking assembly of the one-ton Curiosity rover scheduled for launch between Nov. 25 and Dec. 18, 2011, with an ETA on Mars of August 2012. The mission is scheduled to last one Mars year, which translates to 23 months to us Earthlings.

The bunny-suited techs work 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, Monday through Friday, so you're sure to catch them at work as they add robotic arms, a geology lab, a rock-vaporizing laser and lots of cameras.

Like many of NASA's websites, the Curiosity Cam site is fully loaded for social sharing. Not only can you tweet and embed the video, social stream or chat feed on your site (see below), but you can chat with the techs several times daily. If that's not cool enough, you can sign up to have your name included with others on a microchip attached to the rover.

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