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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Welcome to the Explain xkcd wiki! We currently have Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ",". comic explanations. Come and add yours!

Latest comic

Curiosity
As of this writing the NASA/JPL websites are still overloaded. Trying CURIOSITY-REAR-CAM_[256px_x_256px].torrent.SwEsUb.DVDRip.XviD-aXXo.jpg instead.
Title text: As of this writing the NASA/JPL websites are still overloaded. Trying CURIOSITY-REAR-CAM_[256px_x_256px].torrent.SwEsUb.DVDRip.XviD-aXXo.jpg instead.

Explanation

This comic is a reference to the NASA Mars Rover "Curiosity" landing on Mars on August 5, 2012 at 10:31pm PDT (August 6, 2012 at 5:31am GMT). NASA live-streamed the landing, but demand for the feed caused server issues. Thus, the time spent trying to download the landing images could be used as an excuse for things such as being late for work, falling asleep during the day, or just about anything demanding one's attention.

The title text is a reference to torrents, which are a more resilient peer-to-peer file-sharing method, due to the decentralized BitTorrent protocol, where the more people there are downloading a file, the more available it is. The name is a play on the file naming convention of release groups who name their files (typically for films or television shows) containing data on the file; source (CAM = Camera capture), language (SwEsUb = Swedish subtitles), source (DVDRip = Ripped from DVD), encoding (XviD = XviD codec) and group name (aXXo = aXXo, a well known DVD movie release group). Given that the filename is loaded with keywords that are irrelevant for a still image file, it is unlikely that this torrent will contain the expected pictures.

The first images received from Curiosity via the Odyssey orbiter were low-resolution thumbnails taken from the rover's rear-facing camera, thus the file name CURIOSITY-REAR-CAM_[256px_x_256px].

Transcript

[The Curiosity rover is lowered onto the Mars surface by a Sky Crane.]
Your excuse for anything today: "Sorry - I was up all night trying to download photos taken by a robot lowered onto Mars by a Skycrane."

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