angry tapir writes: "When NASA's Curiosity rover landed on Mars at the end of its 563 million kilometre journey, it was a triumph for engineering. And it was also a triumph for IT. The anxiety of watching the rover's descent wasn't confined to rocket scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory; it was shared by NASA software engineer Khawaja Shams, a member of JPL's Operations Planning Software Lab, who experienced what he describes as the toughest day in his career. Shams was responsible for the cloud computing-based system that lets data get from Mars to Earth. Behind the scenes cloud computing is playing a vital role in the mission. Beyond the Curiosity mission, cloud is changing the way NASA approaches IT."