Mars Curiosity Rover joins Foursquare, posts from Mars

mars curiosity rover joins foursquare posts fromAs if you didn’t already assume that this was the case, NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover is the Mayor of Mars. Or, at least, it soon will be.

You’d think that, for a planet essentially devoid of life – at least to the best of our knowledge – that there wouldn’t be much need for political structures or elections on Mars, but it turns out that Curiosity isn’t interested in that kind of thing anyway. Instead, the Mars Rover that’s busily mapping new areas of the infamous “red planet” halfway across the galaxy is spending its leisure time on social media instead, and has signed up for Foursquare, “checking in” from locations across Mars as it goes about its daily journeys. Its new pasttime was revealed as the Curiosity Rover shared a photo of its shadow on the service of the planet, with the caption “One check-in closer to being Mayor of Mars!” earlier today.

It’s easy to see the partnership between NASA and Foursquare in cynical terms, with the latter social media company cashing in on interest in the historic mission of the Mars Rover which has generated far more headlines and column inches since its arrival on Mars than Foursquare has managed in recent months, but there’s something about the way in which it democratizes the space mission and allows a whole new audience to keep track of its progress that I find really exciting.

Especially enjoyable is the fact that the Rover’s Foursquare account not only includes different check-ins across Mars, but it also includes tips for those who may be interested in visiting Mars in future, just as it would for any other location. For those interested, Mars is “cold, dry and rocky,” and things to consider bringing should you visit include “extra moisturizer and sturdy shoes… plus oxygen for those of you who breathe.” Who knew that Rover would be so speciesist?

According to NASA’s Courtney O’Connor, a scoial media specialist for the organization who’s in charge of the Rover’s operations, NASA “worked closely with Foursquare on this, it was a joint intiative.” The Rover isn’t just limiting itself to Foursquare; it’s also present on both Twitter and Facebook, with O’Connor saying that social media is “a great way to keep [the] public engaged” with the Rover’s progress. “The rover is on a two-year mission,” O’Connor explained, “We don’t even know what [social networks] people will be using in two years. It’s exciting to think about the different platforms people will be joining.”

O’Connor wouldn’t be drawn on future platforms that the Rover may join, although did admit that “we’re exploring all these options,” and adding that “we’d love the idea of a Mars filter on Instagram, though.”

Emerging Tech

Descending at an angle could be key to landing heavier craft on Mars

Landing on Mars is a challenge: The heavier the craft, the more difficult a safe landing becomes. Scientists propose using retropropulsion engines and angling the craft to create a pressure differential to land heavier crafts in the future.
Emerging Tech

Underground volcanoes could explain possible liquid water on Mars

Last year scientists discovered there could be liquid water on Mars. Now a research team argues that for there to be liquid water, there must be an underground source of heat -- and they believe underground volcanoes could be responsible.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s MAVEN orbiter has a new job as a communication relay for Mars 2020

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) orbiter has been collecting atmospheric readings but now is taking on a new job as a data relay satellite for the Mars 2020 mission that launches next year.
Emerging Tech

After a record-setting 15 years, NASA ends Opportunity rover’s tour of Mars

NASA has officially called it quits on its record-setting Mars rover Opportunity, eight months after last hearing from the lander. The Rover landed on the Red Planet in early 2004.
Emerging Tech

Of all the vape pens in the world, these 5 are the best

Vaping concentrates has become significantly more popular, especially among those that use cannabis for medicinal purposes. But don’t use just any vape pen: we found these five devices to be our favorites in 2018.
Computing

The HoloLens 2 will be announced at MWC. Here's what we know about it so far

The HoloLens 2 is ripe for an announcement. Here's what Microsoft has revealed so far, what's likely in store for the next generation HoloLens, and everything that we know about this mixed reality headset.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

A river of stars one billion years old flows across the southern sky

Astronomers have identified a river of stars flowing across our galaxy and covering most of the southern sky. The estimated 4000 stars that comprise the stream were born together and have been moving together for the last one billion years.
Emerging Tech

Ant-inspired walking robot navigates without GPS by using polarized light

What do you get if you cross Boston Dynamics and Ant-Man? You get Antbot, a robot from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) which uses ant-like navigation to move around without the aid of GPS.
Emerging Tech

InSight’s heat probe will dig 16 feet beneath the surface of Mars

New images from NASA's InSight mission to Mars have confirmed that the lander succeeded in setting the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package instrument onto the surface, from where a self-hammering spike will burrow downwards.
Emerging Tech

White spots on Ceres are evidence of ancient ice volcanoes erupting

Scientists are pouring over data collected by NASA's Dawn mission to learn about the dwarf planet Ceres and the bright white spots observed at the bottom of impact craters. They believe that these spots are evidence of ice volcanoes.
Emerging Tech

NASA to launch SPHEREx mission to investigate the origins of our universe

NASA is launching an ambitious mission to map the entire sky to understand the origins of the universe. The Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer (SPHEREx) mission will launch in 2023.
Emerging Tech

Probes exploring Earth’s hazardous radiation belts enter final phase of life

The Van Allen probes have been exploring the radiation belts around Earth for seven years. Now the probes are moving into the final phase of their exploration, coming closer to Earth to gather more data before burning up in the atmosphere.
Emerging Tech

How can digital art created on obsolete platforms be preserved?

As the lines between art and technology continue to blur, digital art experiences become more commonplace. But these developments are raising an important question for art conservationists: How should digital artworks be preserved?