I was on-site at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory August 3-5 to represent NASA as a volunteer social media reporter as part of its #NASASocial program (live-tweeting from @rmglennon). There were over 2,000 applicants, but 25 were chosen randomly (with a slight normalization for gender and geography) to participate. There were a handful of LA-area locals, but most were from outside California. Our hosts were JPL’s social media coordinators, who form the voice of @MarsCuriosity and other JPL Twitter accounts.
I was at JPL all day Friday, August 3 for a press conference and intimate tour of the facilities and mission control, Saturday morning for press conferences, and all day Sunday for more press conferences and the actual landing. I was in the media room as the events were being broadcast and cheered along with the crowd. I arrived home at around 2 am Monday morning, still rushing from the excitement.
I made friends with Hal Eisner from Fox 11 LA and he interviewed me at the top of the 11 pm news immediately after Curiosity’s safe arrival. I met with administrators, scientists, engineers, and celebrities over the course of the weekend. Some of the more memorable encounters include will.i.am, the head of NASA, Seth Green, Uhura from Star Trek, Alex Trebek, the creator of the Big Bang Theory, and all of the Internet memes (rock star guy, wizard guy, Mohawk guy) before they were “famous.”
It was an incredible weekend. I’m still sorting through the 800 photographs I took and writing up my experiences. I’ll never get tired of seeing the video of the mission control room celebration, knowing how amazing the accomplishment was and how fortunate I was to share in it.