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Trending: 'EDL, EDL'... Houston, do we have a problem?


The English far right seemed to be given an unlikely vote of confidence yesterday during Nasa's mission to land a robot on Mars. As the New Scientist magazine reported in a tweet before the rover, Curiosity, touched down on the red planet: "EDL team parades around auditorium to chants of 'EDL! EDL'!"

But, no, we weren't witnessing the spreading of hate into the solar system by the English Defence League, but an unfortunate case of acronymic confusion. In Nasa speak, EDL stands for entry, descent and landing, the crucial so-called "seven minutes of terror".

The New Scientist's presumably American web team received several questioning replies, prompting the follow-up tweet: "Apparently EDL means something other than "entry, descent and landing" to some of you. What is it?"

Space folk love an obfuscating abbreviation, you see. Try this (these are all genuine Nasa phrases): Last night, at JPL, Nasa's watched the EDL of MSL, successor to MER-A and MER-B, before deploying RAD, SAM, MastCam and ChemCam, monitoring progress via the DSN.

Houston, WTF?