NASA Invites Followers to Mars Landing
Now here’s a cool piece of social-experiential marketing: NASA is giving 25 of its most loyal social media followers ringside seats (on Earth) for the upcoming landing of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover on Mars. NASA is inviting the lucky nerds to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, from August 3-5, for three days of events culminating in Curiosity’s landing in the Gale crater on the Red Planet at 1:31 a.m. ET on August 6 (10:31 p.m. PT).
NASA’s guests will get to tour the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (except the top-secret parts), speak with scientists and engineers, participate in news conferences and, if all goes as planned, be there when the first signal of the rover’s landing is detected by mission control. Social registration for the event is open from June 6-8.
Curiosity’s two-year-long mission will investigate whether the Gale crater and its environs offered conditions favorable for microbial life (as well as looking for any evidence of life itself). At 1,875 pounds, Curiosity is the biggest and most complicated rover ever sent to Mars; the $2.5 billion price tag is also the biggest budget for a Mars rover project to date. If Curiosity turns out to be as durable as previous rovers, the mission could extend well beyond the first two years.
Also like previous rovers, the landing itself should be something of a feat. The capsule holding Curiosity, launched from Earth in November 2011, will approach Mars at over 10,000 miles per hour, brake on the atmosphere, and deploy a supersonic parachute. After descending close to the planet’s surface, the capsule will open and the rover will be lowered to the ground on cables, as retro rockets fire to further slow its descent.