On Monday, August 6th, NASA’s latest nuclear-powered rover, named Curiosity, is scheduled to land on the surface of Mars at 1:31 ETA. Two days before the anticipated landing, 30 chosen men and women will be Tweeting, Facebook posting, blogging and performing all types of social media to inform the world of this revolutionary galactic endeavor.
NASA carefully chose 30 people out 266 hopefuls based in part on their social media expertise, blogging strategies and web-based audience. The governmental aeronautical agency did not choose reality stars with the most Twitter followers or Facebook comments, but instead searched the web for popular Internet leaders related to or interested in aerospace and similar topics.
The internet-savvy participants will learn a handful of confidential NASA related-data, filled with technical terms in outer space language. The participants will be expected to translate and fit these heavy terms into concise and logical statements fewer than 140 characters. From seeing a model of the Orion – a new partially solar powered spacecraft scheduled to carry astronauts deeper into space than ever before – to taking a tour of a model of the Dream Chaser – a reusable craft that will travel to NASA’s space station, the 30 individuals will distribute these reports to its followers and readers as cool, concise and efficient as possible.
But the most imperative information that be communicated pertains to Curiosity’s landing phase, or as NASA spokesman, Mark Finnerman puts it “the seven minutes of terror”. The experienced bloggers are expected to accurately depict the adventure and update their followers as the craft rips through the Martian atmosphere of up to 3,800 degrees Fahrenheit and free-fall to the desired landing platform.
Curiosity will be over 154 million miles away, in the hopes of discovering past or present Martian habitability and the feeling of a good $2.5 billion well spent. This also means that all information relayed back to planet Earth will take up to 13 minutes because of the enourmous distance. In those nail-biting moments, the social media experts will be working hard at what they are good at; keeping followers calm, informed and excited about the potentially revolutionary discoveries.
This Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover has been flying through the galaxies of space for the past eight months, after a two-year intensive planning period by the rocket scientists. The “Tweetup”, where people on Twitter come together in person, will last a much shorter period of time, beginning on Friday in Hampton, Virginia and continuing until the spacecraft is expected to land on early Monday morning.
One would think this would attract a limited audience but Mark Finnerman states that this program attracts “people of all ages and walks of life”. NASA has done its research for sending robots to Mars and for social media marketing as well. From Harley Davidson fanatics to stay-at-home moms, the participants are guaranteed to distribute the critical information to a vast array of eager followers interested in the subject at hand.
The fact that NASA is welcoming civilians to roam the intimidating halls of its headquarters and is sharing these pivotal moments in space history with bloggers simply empowers social media and social media techniques even more. It establishes a level of trust and respect amongst the participants in this technologically advanced and speedy era of communication. It also promises a serious future for the millions of micro-bloggers and Facebooking fiends on the worldwide web. Who knows, maybe someday they will be asked to send updates all the way from the atmospheres of Mars or Jupiter.