NASA’s Curiosity Rover Lands on Mars

NASA has been prone to a great deal of criticism in the last few years. Politicians and civilians alike have been criticizing their funding. People are unhappy the shuttle program was shut down. But NASA is still here, and they are still making progress. I’ve been a little concerned if NASA was going to have a future I’d be proud of. My concerns were short-lived. This morning they achieved something truly admirable.

Around 1:30AM this morning, NASA’s 2,000 pound lab on wheels, Curiosity, touched down safely on the surface of Mars.

7 Minutes of Terror

This time around, NASA has taken to the web to tout its mission. NASA issued frequent press releases and released information about the Curiosity and its mission. They even made a video that went viral on the internet.called “The 7 Minutes of Terror.” The video has racked up over 1.5 million views on various platforms, including YouTube, and sparked a strong public interest in the mission.

Alan Boyle, NBCNews’ science editor wrote the landing was “a touchdown of Super Bowl proportions.” What’s even more impressive (and a testament to NASA’s skill) is that “the final phase of [Curiosity’s] journey from Earth to Mars relied on technologies that have never been tried before in outer space.” I definitely think “7 Minutes of Terror” is a proper way to describe a $2.5 billion dollar mission hinging on untried technology.

Curiosity will use its 10 scientific instruments to study the Martian landscape, send high-resolution photos, and much more on its journey to a 3-mile-high mountain in the middle of the crater it landed in. NASA plans to keep everyone informed too.

Twitter, NASA, and Curiosity

With this mission, NASA tweeted the entire landing from Curiosity’s own Twitter account. There’s a great  article by Chris Taylor on Mashable that discusses this. One of the most memorable tweets from the early hours of the morning channeling Neil Armstrong went like this: “It once was one small step… now it’s six big wheels. Here’s a look at one of them on the soil of Mars” followed by a small black and white photo. Taylor reported, “The moment of landing led to an explosion of superlatives on Twitter. Users outdid each other to congratulate the mission, NASA, and science in general.”

Social Media Entrenches Itself Deeper

NASA has embraced Twitter and YouTube for this mission. It gives them a chance to communicate directly with the people of the U.S. and the world. Even President Obama made a late-night celebratory tweet about the mission.

Social Media has allowed us to become closer to people we care about and to the undertakings that inspire us. Here at CEM, we often discuss the benefits social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn provide for business, but there’s also something greater at work here. Social Media has become the human voice of the internet. When you look at how instrumental social platforms have been during the Olympics, and now with Curiosity’s landing, you can’t help but be amazed. We now feel closer to– no, we feel part of the accomplishments of our fellow man because of social media.

And with that, I’d like to congratulate NASA on a job well done.

Do you believe social media is more than just an effective tool for business?

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Patrick currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is studying for a Master's Degree in Intercultural Relations. Upon graduation from Penn State in 2008, he spent two years overseas in Kyrgyzstan with the U.S. Peace Corps. While writing is currently his chosen way to put food on the table, he loves fitness and exercise, which he believes makes up for his avid computer gaming habit.

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