Global Space

Space & Social Media, the Bonds that Unite Us

Written by: developer

by Colleen Parith*

During 2015, we followed the space events trending on our favorite social media sites. The year began with three important launches — the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) launch from California in January, the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) from Cape Canaveral in February and the important launch of NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko from Kazakhstan and the #YearInSpace campaign.

April was a very busy month for the Space Foundation as we took over Twitter and found both 31st Space Symposium hashtags trending! Thousands of tweets regarding the premier global space event flooded the web for the four-day conference. Some of this excitement carried into May with the launch of the Air Force’s X-37B Space Plane, which won the 2015 Space Achievement Award presented the prior month at the 31st Space Symposium. The secretive mission had the social media world buzzing with speculation about what the objectives for the flight really were and why the Air Force released details about the fourth flight of the secret plane when no details had been released on the prior missions.

Over the summer, deep space was the buzz on social media and around the world. While a year on Earth lasts 365 days, it takes nearly twice that for neighboring planet Mars to go around the sun. With the #JourneyToMars trend throughout the year, the Martian new year was celebrated around the world, with a special party in Mars, Pa. Not long after celebrating an orbit around the sun, the world waited with anticipation as the New Horizons mission made the closest ever approach to Dwarf Planet Pluto. Pluto’s heart touched the hearts of millions around the world with each new photo filling Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds. August was a month for celebrating robots in space, Rosetta and Philae made their closest approach to the sun as comet 67P reached perihelion and Curiosity had a lonely 3rd Landiversary on Mars. 

Speculation came in September with the Super Blood Moon lunar eclipse. While the world didn’t end after the eclipse, it shattered for some when the Facebook server crashed twice the following week, the second time taking down Instagram, as well. Social media users bombarded Twitter claiming the lunar eclipse was the beginning of the end, and the crash of Facebook was proof. Luckily, the server was back online after a few hours, and at the time of this writing, Earth doesn’t appear to be in an imminent danger. The iOS 9.1 seemed to calm everyone down with the long anticipated taco emoji. Space enthusiasts were much more excited for the robot face, nerd face, comet and satellite emojis.

We’ve seen the closing of the year wrapping up most of these great events into a neat little bow. With nations around the world focused on being the first to send humans to Mars, the October release of The Martian has had people talking for months; who will get there first and how will we survive? With the 15th Anniversary of the International Space Station (ISS) in early November, we saw the world celebrating international cooperation and achievement. We want to go to Mars and the work being done on the ISS is going to help mankind get there. 

What will 2016 bring? The launch and landing of NASA’s InSight Mars Lander, the launch of ESA’s ExoMars Mars Orbiter, Juno will reach Jupiter, a total solar eclipse for the Pacific region, and the return of Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko. We will see new hashtags, viral videos and maybe a new social media platform or two. One thing is for sure, 2016 will continue to use space and social media to break the barriers that separate us and help remind us we are all citizens of planet Earth.

*As Space Foundation Marketing & Communications Specialist, Colleen Parith manages social media for the Space Foundation. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, Flickr and YouTube.

This article is part of Space Watch: December 2015 (Volume: 14, Issue: 12).