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Utah's Mia Love Slams Trump in Concession Speech; NASA Hopes to Successfully Land "Insight" Space Probe on Mars. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired November 26, 2018 - 14:30   ET



[14:31:38] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Just in the past hour, we saw former Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, walk into the federal Correctional Institution in Oxford, Wisconsin. And just before he did so, gave his wife a hug. Papadopoulos had been sentenced to 14 days in prison as part of a plea deal in the Mueller investigation. He was the first person charged in the special counsel's Russia investigation. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators about his contacts with Russians during the 2016 election.

Meantime, Republican Congresswoman Mia Love conceded her Utah race today and took a few parting shots at President Trump. You remember during that unprecedented post-election news conference just a couple of weeks ago, President Trump stood up there criticizing his fellow Republican candidates who didn't exactly seek out his support during the midterms. Mia Love was on that list.

The president saved some of his harshest jabs for her.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mia Love gave me no love and she lost. Too bad. Sorry about that, Mia.


BALDWIN: Turns out, when the president made those comments, Love hadn't lost the race yet. It wasn't until later that ballots showed her campaign up about 700 votes shorts.

In a wide-ranging speech today, Love says she feels "unshackled" -- her word -- to speak her mind. And one of her prime targets, President Trump.


REP. MIA LOVE, (R), UTAH: The president's behavior towards me made me wonder, what did he have to gain my saying such a thing about a fellow Republican? It was not really about asking him to do more, was it? Or was it something else? Well, Mr. President, we'll have to chat about that. However, this gave me a clear vision of his world as it is. No real relationships, just convenient transactions.


BALDWIN: Her remarks there come as a new Gallup poll shows Trump's disapproval rating has jumped 10 percent in the last month, and 60 percent of Americans now disapprove of the job he is doing as president of the United States. That matches the record high of 60 percent he has seen several times before.

Coming up next, we are moments from this attempted mission to Mars. NASA scientists are attempting a dramatic and risky landing, so we're going to watch all of that action for you from Mission Control.

If you want to remember how seriously scientists take this stuff, let's go back six years ago, when the Curiosity rover touched down on Mars. Remember this?


[14:34:14] UNIDENTIFIED NASA EMPLOYEE: Touchdown confirmed. We are safe on Mars.




BALDWIN: Time for us space nerds to hold our collective breath. Right now, we are moments away from what NASA scientists call the seven minutes of terror. The reason is this. "Insight" is a Mars probe that left earth last May and has traveled more than 1,200 million miles from home. Right now, "Insight" is in the process of landing on Mars. So what you're seeing is this animation. The actual landing involves several complex steps. There's a reason NASA refers to this as seven minutes of terror. Mars is already littered with failed probes. And we'll get into the complications of all of this and how huge the success will be.

With me, CNN aviation analyst, Miles O'Brien. Miles is also a science correspondent for "PBS News Hour," CNN business correspondent, Rachel Crane, who has covered space and is as equally obsessed as I am. And Don Lincoln is a particle physicist and the author of "Alien Universe: Extraterrestrial Life in Our Minds and in the Cosmos."

So, Don, as I just told you, it's not often I get to talk to a particle physicist on my show, so I'm starting with you.

My first question is, really, how much are NASA scientists and engineers sweating right now?

[14:40:00] DON LINCOLN, PARTICLE PHYSICIST & AUTHOR: Well, they have to be sweating an incredible amount. For one thing, it's a very difficult project from a technological point of view, and it's very far away. This whole entire thing will be done in an automated form and you just have to trust that you did it right.

BALDWIN: Trust that you did it right. It is complex. Can you -- can you begin, Don, to walk me through the actual landing

itself and the complexities involved in nailing it, that 12-degree angle just right?

LINCOLN: Well, yes. This is -- the difficulty is multi-staged. The first thing is, the lander has to leave the spacecraft that went from earth to Mars. It has to go into the atmosphere at a precise angle. If it goes more steeply than 12 degrees, it will burn up, like a meteor. If it goes more shallow, it will bounce off the atmosphere. And while it's falling, it's essentially a meteor, falling into the Martian atmosphere. The Martian atmosphere is very thin. And that's what makes landing on Mars so very difficult. It's 1 percent the amount of air that we have on earth, and that makes it difficult to slow down.

BALDWIN: Let me --


LINCOLN: Once it's about halfway down --


BALDWIN: Can I hit pause on the science for a second, because I want to explain to people -- and, Miles, let me go to you.

We have another box on the screen, and I'm assuming, this is Pasadena. Is this the JPL lab? Are these the folks that are steering this thing, for lack of a better word?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, at this point, they're just going for the ride, Brooke. As he pointed out, this is an automated thing. The people in that room, they are the river boat gamblers of science, Brooke. They put their chips on the table, they spend a decade or so working on a mission. and it all comes down to 6.5 minutes, and it's either a great day or you just see them droop and get sad. As they did back in 1998 and '99, Mars Polo lander, when they didn't get that signal back. Those memories are seared in the collective consciousness at JPL. They've had great moments and they've had moments of absolute agony and defeat, as well.

BALDWIN: We want to avoid the agony and we would like a repeat of the high fives from "Curiosity" in 2012.

And, Rachel, for people who are just tuning in and are like, why are they talking about Mars and this "Insight," what is the purpose of it all?

RACHEL CRANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There have been many missions to Mars before. And to highlight how difficult this is, pulling off either landing a lander or a rover or an orbiter, bringing an orbiter to Mars, more than half of the missions have actually failed. So there's about a 40 percent chance of success here.

So, you know, this is incredibly difficult. Space is hard. I just want to highlight that. But most missions to Mars have been about studying the atmosphere or

the surface. It hasn't really been about getting to the core, literally, of the planet and what it's all -- what makes it up. And so that's what "Insight" is all about. There's actually a heat probe that's going to dig 16 feet into the planet, which is deeper than any other lander has ever gone before. Usually, these landers only go to about an inch below the surface. And so, they hope to learn about how much heat is escaping from the planet. And that will give us insight into what the core is actually made of. So it's really to get at the evolution of the planet, what the planet is comprised of, to have us learn a little bit about the evolution of these rocky planets like our own, earth.

BALDWIN: So on that, Don, back over to you, so this thing, I want you to continue explaining how this thing -- actually, let's listen in just for a second.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On this heat shield. Very, very hot. But on the inside of the heat shield, it may be only a fraction -- a few degrees above room temperature. So it's a wonderful protector device to keep our lander safe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. So the next thing we're standing by for is --



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Getting through the top of the atmosphere, gradually slowing down. Right now the vehicle's just now beginning to -- very soon will be beginning to feel the atmosphere touching it. Actually, entry is above the atmosphere slightly. So it's really not until a few -- half a minute or so after entry before we really start detecting the fact that that atmosphere is slowing us down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. We'll be standing by.


BALDWIN: All right. So we're all sort of standing by to stand by.

Don, why is this referred to as the seven minutes of terror? When do these seven minutes begin?

LINCOLN: Well, the seven minutes start about when the orbiter, the landing module, hits the atmosphere. And the problem is, is that Mars is far away. It takes about eight minutes at that particular time right now for a radio signal from Mars to get here. So in the descent phase, about 6,5 minutes, suppose something happens three minutes in, it will send a signal to earth, but that signal won't get to us for eight minutes, IN which case, by the time we get it, it will be all over. So we have to depend on the engineers to have done their job right.

[14:45:19] BALDWIN: So it's essentially, you know, on a mega delay, and it's not like anyone sitting in this room, as Miles is alluding to, can do anything about it. They're in it for the ride. Because once it comes back down to earth, it would be too late. Am I following you correctly?

LINCOLN: Right, the signal, it's a long delay. So suppose something happens three minutes from landing and it needs some kind of intervention by the engineer, the signal will be sent from the landing pod to earth, it will get here in eight minutes, but it only has three minutes before it hits the ground. So there's no way to make any changes. It just has to work at this point.

BALDWIN: All right.

Don and Rachel and Miles, do me a favor and all stand by.

We're holding our breath. I know, I feel the excitement all the way over here, just to see when "Insight" lands on Mars. Live pictures, Pasadena, California.

We'll be right back.


[14:50:40] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The parachute will deploy --

BALDWIN: All right. You are looking at live picture of the JPL, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. We are within mere minutes of finding out whether this "Insight" probe will actually land on Mars. Let's listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED NASA EMPLOYEE: Science reports sudden change in doppler.

UNIDENTIFIED NASA EMPLOYEE: Ground stations are observing signals consistent with parachute deploy.


UNIDENTIFIED NASA EMPLOYEE: Michael alpha, Michael bravo, maintain lock status.

UNIDENTIFIED NASA EMPLOYEE: Telemetry shows parachute deployment. Radar powered on.


UNIDENTIFIED NASA EMPLOYEE: Heat shield separation commanded.

UNIDENTIFIED NASA EMPLOYEE: This is really good news so far.


UNIDENTIFIED NASA EMPLOYEE: I'm on pins and needles.

UNIDENTIFIED NASA EMPLOYEE: We have radar activation where the radar is beginning to search for the ground. Once the radar locks on the ground and "Insight" is about one kilometer above the surface, the lander will separate from the back shield and begin terminal descent using its 12 descent engines.

Altitude convergence, the radar has locked on the ground.



UNIDENTIFIED NASA EMPLOYEE: Standing by for lander separation.

UNIDENTIFIED NASA EMPLOYEE: Carrier interruption, Michael alpha, bravo.

UNIDENTIFIED NASA EMPLOYEE: Lander separation commanded. Altitude 600 meters. Gravity turn, altitude 400 meters.


UNIDENTIFIED NASA EMPLOYEE: Three-hundred meters, 200 meters, 80 meters, 60 meters, 50 meters. Constant velocity. Thirty-seven meters, 30 meters, 20 meters, 17 meters. Standing by for touchdown.

Touchdown confirmed!




UNIDENTIFIED NASA EMPLOYEE: "Insight" is on the surface of Mars!



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's fantastic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This never gets old.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, it doesn't, Rob. Control Room just erupted.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fabulous. Fabulous.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shaking hands with the Marco team there.


Tim Raisen (ph), the key designers at Lockheed, Sandy Krasner (ph). What a great team.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is really fabulous.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lots of fist bumping going on in there. What a relief.

We've cut over to the camera over in Times Square. Boy, people are weathering the rain to see this.


[14:55:31] BALDWIN: Oh, my goodness, the high fives, the fist bumps, the hugs.

Ladies and gentlemen, NASA, they have achieved something pretty extraordinary. The "Insight" probe has now officially landed on Mars. I can feel the excitement.

Don and then Miles and then Rachel.

Don, first to you. What do you think of this scene?

LINCOLN: I am completely jazzed by this. And the first thing I would like to say, as a scientist, I would like to congratulate the technical and scientific staff at NASA and JPL. Great job.

BALDWIN: And what's just happened? We know it landed on Mars. Tell me more.

LINCOLN: Well, now the next step is to shake out the equipment, deploy the solar panels. Then there are three different missions that "Insight" will do. One is to test the wobble of Mars' rotation, to find out something about the core of Mars. Another one will be to deploy a very sensitive seismograph to look for Mars quakes, and when meteors hit Mars, to find out more about its interior. And finally, and perhaps the most exciting, is to drill down 16 feet underground to actually take the temperature of the planet. And that will teach us something about the inter-dynamics of Mars. And it will also tell us how warm it is down there. And not from a science point of view, but from an explorer point of view, if it's warm down there, that makes it more likely that there will be liquid water. All in all, this is going to be a fascinating scientific project.

BALDWIN: So these scientists are salivating over the data to come.

But, Miles, to you, underscore for me, the fact that this has been flying since May up towards Mars and the likelihood of this precise landing, there have been so many failed probes in the past, why is this such a big deal?

O'BRIEN: Brooke, this is awfully darned hard, you know? We've already made the point that less than half of these landings succeed at all. And 500 or so will certainly get you into the Hall of Fame for baseball, but this is tricky stuff. And you know, it always impresses me, as you listen to them, they're so calm and cool and collected, you know their sweating bullets underneath, but they never reveal it. And when it happens, they just erupt. I would love every young person in America to absorb this, take this in, and realize that studying science and math and engineering isn't as nerdy as you may think. It could lead you into that room and it could have you giving high fives for putting something on Mars. That's incredible.


Hey, nothing nerdy about it. I've been to space camp three times.


BALDWIN: Rachel, we were excited in 2012 with the Curiosity rover and it's a rover, meaning it will move. This, obviously, stays put to collect the data. It's a lander. What's -- what more are they trying to achieve with the data?

CRANE: Well, first, what's interesting is where they've landed. And they call it like a relatively boring parking spot on Mars. And it's really close to the equator, just north of the equator. It's very flat, not very rocky. They chose that for a reason to minimize any potential damage, not steep. And it will perform all of its duties right there from that one spot. And also close to the equator so it will get a lot of sunlight. It's powered by the solar panels that will soon hopefully deploy. There's a lot of dust that happens when this lander -- when the thrusters go off, so they're waiting for the dust to also settle before they deploy those solar panels. But being close to the equator will guarantee that they got a lot of sunlight.

But it's interesting that, you know, they're not choosing some like really active spot on Mars. This is, as they call it, a good parking spot. So, yes, you know, but every place on Mars, let's be honest, is pretty interesting. It's Mars!


But also, the fact that they just pulled this off. You have to remember, this was a nearly $1 billion mission 10 years in the making. So a ton of money on the line. You know, those watch parties, those viewing parties all over the world happening right now. So there was a lot of pressure on NASA to pull this off, and the fact that they did it beautifully, but the odds against them, really, it just speaks to the power of those scientists and engineers. It's absolutely incredible.

BALDWIN: It's amazing. It's amazing.

Rachel, thank you for your excitement.

And Miles and Don Lincoln, thank you all so very much.

And again, a huge, huge, huge congratulations to NASA.