- The official Twitter account for the Curiosity rover, @MarsCuriosity, currently has 969,261 followers. At the time of the landing, Curiosity was trending in popularity (take a look at this review of #Curiosity chatter as well as the Twitter Blog’s account of the Curiosity landing).
- Also, on Facebook, Curiosity has 268,000 fans. On Google+, #MSL trended at the number two spot for August 6 2012. Curiosity predictably trended as a Google search term, according to Google Trends.
- There were several #NASASocials (formally #NASATweetups) at various NASA facilities across the nation. Penny4NASA’s own John Zeller watched from a #NASASocial hosted at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and famous NASA fan Pillow Astronaut attended a gathering at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California where 7000 people apparently gathered to watch the landing.
- In all, there were 120+ Curiosity landing parties around the United States and the globe, including several at other NASA centers. The Planetary Society hosted a crowd of 15,000 at Planetfest 2012 in Pasadena, California to watch the landing. According to NBC, around 1,000 people gathered in Times Square to watch the landing on one of the giant screens.
- During the landing broadcast, NASA websites actually went down and Ustream video actually froze up due to excessive website interaction. This is something that has happened for the last few rover landings (Pathfinder, Spirit, and Opportunity), proving just how the Red Planet continues to excite Earthlings.
The Obama Administration is asking for a 0.3% reduction in NASA’s budget for fiscal year 2013 (which is a 5% reduction from the proposed budget of FY 2012). You might be saying, “now hold on, that doesn’t sound so bad.” Not so fast. That’s a loss of $59 million. That kind of money affects several programs disproportionately because NASA has to choose which programs and initiatives will get money and which will lose money based on many factors. Essentially, NASA is being forced to cut programs where it can, cancelling some, reducing others and spreading the savings around where NASA thinks would be most effective. In light of these proposals, NASA is apparently having to severely reduce the Mars Exploration Program, cutting its budget a full $261 million! This very much reduces the capacity of Mars exploration for the near-term future.
Why the Mars program is specifically being affected more than others is unclear (as Newsday notes), but if the FY 2013 Obama Administration budget recommendation for NASA is followed by Congress, it could mean that Curiosity – already a wildly popular accomplishment – could be the last time humanity does any landing on Mars for a long while. NASA, realizing that its tough times for the agency, has already cancelled the ExoMars partnership with the European Space Agency.
This whole situation can be avoided by simply doubling NASA’s budget from its current less than half a penny on the US tax dollar to the audacious, yet minuscule ONE FULL PENNY ON THE FEDERAL DOLLAR. You can see the numbers above…you can see clearly that when the public clamors for more space exploration, for more NASA missions – when they crash NASA servers just to get a glimpse of another world - then the work that NASA does for humanity is greatly appreciated. Our political leadership in Congress very much needs to know how the public feels – how YOU feel about missions like Curiosity. NASA is exploring the Solar System, preparing humanity for its eventual expansion. It is also invigorating the US economy and bestowing new technological innovations into human societies.
If there is any question on the economic benefits that NASA bestows upon the United States, then please check out the following links: Economic Impact of NASA Funding or NASA’s Positive Impact on Society or Economic Impacts of the US Space Program
Remember, there is plenty you can do to make sure that NASA can continue to perform its duty to the United States and to Humanity. Swing by our Popvox widget and Write Your Congressional Representatives. Tell them how you feel about the Curiosity Rover and about NASA’s work in general. You can also spread the word to anyone you know, either in person or online. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr among many other social networks are powerful tools for getting people involved. Additionally, you can donate to Penny4NASA. We are a non-profit organization dedicated to this one task, to increase NASA’s budget up to one penny on the Federal dollar so that NASA has the room to take humanity to the next step. With your help, NASA will take us to the Red Planet and beyond.
Source: SPACE.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration