This past Sunday (August 5, 2012), in an incredible feat, NASA landed the Curiosity rover on Mars after its 8 month journey through space. NASA utilized social media to help promote its mission to Mars, setting up a Twitter and Facebook account for the rover, as well as live streaming the landing on Ustream. As it turns out, all of this proved to be very popular with the general public. There were over 1.2 million Tweets during the time period (July 29 - August 6) we analyzed with a huge spike in conversation occurring on August 6. In fact, there was a 1,092% increase in conversation about the Mars rover from Sunday (August 5) into Monday (August 6). If you want some additional perspective on the increased interest in the mission, on August 3 the @MarsCuriosity account Tweeted that it was in "good health" and would be landing in three days. That Tweet was ReTweeted 1,689 times and favorited 180 times. While the Tweet from @MarsCuriosity sharing the first picture after landing garnered 30,933 ReTweets and 6,993 favorites.
One of the most popular aspects of the Mars rover landing was the fact it was live streamed on the Internet, with the Ustream channel dedicated to the Curiosity rover racking up almost 7 million views.
A live stream from Mars, you ask? Yes, and there was only a 14 minute delay for data that had to travel 154.2 million miles. Pretty impressive. Of course, this small fact gave way to over 50,000 Tweets from people berating NBC's Olympic coverage, which had already been a hot topic of conversation.
Tweets such as the ones below called out NBC for delaying coverage of Olympic events for hours in an effort to get more viewers during prime time.
NBC has a 6 hour delay for events 3000 miles away.NASA has a 15 minute delay for an event 150,000,000 miles away.
— Matt Nunogawa (@amattn) August 6, 2012
— Andrew Turner (@ajturner) August 6, 2012
We also analyzed conversation surrounding the #FundNASA hashtag, after reading about it going viral on TechCrunch. However, despite TechCrunch's report, there were only 2,769 tweets that included the #FundNASA hashtag on Twitter indicating to us that the hashtag was not nearly as popular as claimed.
Our very own Creative Director was up in the early hours of the morning to watch the Mars landing, here is a photo from his "mission control."
Did you watch the Mars landing? If so, how did you watch it?