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A Facebook Eulogy for the Mars Lander

by Jake Mohan 

Tags: Science and Technology, outer space, space exploration, NASA, Mars, discoveries, social networking, Facebook, Twitter, Scientific American,

phoenix lander

The Mars Phoenix Lander has accrued thousands of friends and fans on Facebook and Twitter since “dying” last week, when the red planet’s freezing temperatures ended the machine's functionality, Scientific American reports.

NASA spokeswoman Virginia McGregor became a pseudo-celebrity when she began transmitting Twitter tweets and Facebook messages on the lander’s behalf. This proves that 1) social networking is inescapable, even in space; and 2) humans can mourn inanimate objects in record numbers.

For a space program with a history of public relations problems, harnessing the power of social networking to eulogize the Phoenix was a brilliant bit of marketing, and a great way to exploit the sentimentality of space geeks like [sniff] yours truly.