As the NASA Curiosity Rover touched down and began tweeting from Mars early this morning, you may have all been pondering the same question: “If that thing can send tweets from Mars, then why the heck do I have trouble accessing Twitter when I’m on the tube?”
Joking aside, today was a big one for NASA. As the unmanned vehicle safely touched down on the red planet, the following tweets were sent:
I'm safely on the surface of Mars. GALE CRATER I AM IN YOU!!! #MSL— Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) August 6, 2012
The Curiosity Rover now has almost 600,000 followers on Twitter, but it wasn’t the only account to capture the attention of the Twitterverse. Bobak Ferdowski, Flight Director on the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity mission, has become an internet sensation after using Instagram to post pictures from the NASA control room, as well as a tweet showing his mowhawk sprayed in stars:
His account @tweetsoutloud quietly went from 200 followers to 11,000 in just a few hours.
NASA has now been using social media, and in particularly Twitter, to keep the public informed for a while now. Many astronauts have accounts that they update while on missions in space, and some of the pictures sent back down to earth are absolutely stunning.
It is remarkable to think how far the human race has come along in the last half a century or so. An often quoted fact is that there is more computing power in a standard smartphone that there was in the entire Apollo 11 mission that saw man first set foot on the moon in 1969. Is it feasible to think that in the not so distant future the same level of technology used to land the Curiosity Rover on Mars this morning might also be in the pocket of the average man? You can bet they’ll try…