Bloggers, tweeters and Facebook aficionados with a yen to post their own online Martian chronicles have the chance to join a social media event at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton to preview the upcoming landing of the Mars rover.
This is the first event -- called a NASA Social, but otherwise known as a Tweetup -- that will take place simultaneously at six NASA research centers across the country.
Registration will begin at noon Friday and end at noon Tuesday. About 30 hopefuls will be invited to tour Langley on August 3. At that time, they'll learn the center's role in the Mars Science Laboratory mission, which involves the largest rover ever to land on the planet.
Langley scientists worked on the Curiosity rover's entry, descent and landing phase -- the so-called "seven minutes of terror," said Michael Finneran, social media lead at the center, "when it's zooming through the atmosphere down to the planet's surface to, hopefully, a safe landing."
The landing date is August 6. Langley scientists also worked on the instrumentation inside the heat shield that will study the Martian atmosphere during descent.
At the social, guests will meet with Langley experts and watch presentations, all the while blogging, posting and tweeting live about what they're learning.
"It gets the message out there about what we're doing," said Finneran. "Of course, a lot of their friends and their followers are re-tweeting, and it just spreads all over the place."
The last such Tweetup was last November, when about 50 guests were shown the facility's wind tunnel, a simulated moon habitat and a splash test of the Orion space capsule. They broadcast their experience live for hours.
"It's sort of like citizen journalism, in a way," said Finneran. "These folks spend their own money and time to fly out, drive out, take a hotel, if they have to. They're really dedicated."
For rules and registration information, go to http://www.nasa.gov/social.
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