How America Fell for the Mars Rover
Friday, January 11, 2013
When NASA first landed a man on the moon (which we do believe happened), an estimated 500 million people worldwide watched on TV. Decades later, when the shuttle program was canceled, and manned space flight just about abandoned, a lot of Americans felt that NASA lost its mojo. Space is a great place to park communications satellites, but in an era of fiscal cliffs, budget cuts, and tax battles, the government expense of an interplanetary mission is a hard sell.
So when the Mars rover Curiosity went to Mars last year, the journey was a PR opportunity as much as a scientific one. Curiosity had a Twitter feed, @MarsCuriosity, and announced its own entry into the Martian atmosphere. Meanwhile, millions of Americans watched that heart-stopping descent, or at least they believed they did.
NASA has used animation to explain missions since the 1960s, but it outdid itself for Curiosity, hiring an animation studio to produce a Hollywood-grade video of the spacecraft’s journey. The animators, Bohemian Grey, borrowed a few tips from Pixar’s WALL-E to make a robot loveable. Can YouTube mint NASA a new generation of space buffs?
Video: Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover Animation
Slideshow: Images of Mars taken by Curiosity
MarsArtist: Juno ReactorAlbum: Beyond The InfiniteLabel: Barbarians IncPurchase: Amazon