August 5, 2012

The Stars Come Out For Curiosity Rover

April Flowers for - Your Universe Online

Everyone is on pins and needles waiting for the Mars Space Laboratory Mission's Curiosity Rover to touch down later tonight, but the stars are already out.

NASA hosted a social at Jet Propulsion Labs (JPL) that has been ongoing since Friday. Scientists, space experts, astronauts, 25 specially selected social media fans and some very well known celebrities have all attended.

Tonight, of the Black Eyed Peas, joined by astronaut Leland Melvin, took the stage to discuss STEM Education with a group of NASA tweeters. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and is a education initiative supported by the U.S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and other agencies to specifically support teachers and students in these areas.

Will Wheaton (Star Trek's Next Generation, Eureka and Big Bang Theory), Alex Trebek (host of Jeopardy), John Hamm (Mad Men) and June Lockhart (Lost in Space) have all put in appearances tonight, with many other star studded names on the list to attend, such as Nichelle Nichols, better known as Lt. Uhura from the original cast of Star Trek.

The NASA social was hosted to provide people who engage with NASA via Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other social networks with the opportunity to tour JPL; to speak with scientists and engineers; participate in news conferences; and, if all goes as planned, to be present when first signal of the rover's landing is detected by JPL mission control. The event also will provide participants the opportunity to interact with fellow "space tweeps" and members of NASA's social media team.

Registration was open to anyone who follows NASA on social media, but they had to be willing to travel to JPL in California, be present for all three days, and go through a government clearance protocol. Out of all those who registered, NASA chose 25 very lucky participants who have been encouraged to post about everything going on.