Curiosity is NASA's most digitally savvy rover yet. She tweets regularly, posts her pictures and now she is the first Foursquare user to ever check in on Mars.
Curiosity's first check-in was today at the Gale Crater, where she made her first landing on the night of August 5. Located on the equator of Mars, the Gale Crater is home to the 5.5 kilometre-high Mount Sharp and is Curiosity's primary target as it holds billions of years of Martian history.
Curiosity will continue to check in and share updates throughout her 23-month expedition.
"Like any great trip, you want to share [it] with your friends back home, so that is why the rover is sharing check-ins and tips from her amazing trip," says Stephanie L. Smith, who is part of the three-woman team that runs Curiosity's social media.
Since Curiosity is the first to post from the Red Planet, she will regularly give travel tips for future space tourists.
"Mars is cold, dry and rocky. Extra moisturiser and sturdy shoes would be a good idea, plus oxygen for those of you who breathe," she posted along with a snapshot of the desert-like landscape.
Curiosity's next check-in will be from Rocknest, another point within the Gale Crater where the rover will be parked for the next two weeks to conduct various experiments.
"We'll start getting to more specific locations within the crater," says Veronica McGregor, social media manager at NASA. "We may not do daily check-ins for each drive, but we will be able to do check-ins and tips for locations after we name them."
Curiosity's Foursquare tips will be a mix of science and humour. "We're having fun with these tips," says NASA social media specialist Courtney O'Connor. "We have to consider things like atmosphere, temperature and things we don't normally think about on Earth. We have to put ourselves into her point of view. You have to get into character."
So far, the rover has checked in two times today. She only has one more check-in until she becomes mayor of Gale Crater — an honour that, McGregor says, is well-deserved.
"If anyone should be mayor, it's that rover."
NASA announced last week that the Mars rover has discovered gravel once carried by the waters of an ancient stream that "ran vigorously" through the area.
Scientists had previously found other evidence that water once was present on the Red Planet, but this is the first time streambed gravel has been discovered.
"NASA is using Foursquare as a tool to share the rover's new locations while exploring Mars," said NASA spokesman David Weaver.
Curiosity is on a two-year mission to investigate whether it is possible to live on Mars and to learn whether conditions there might have been able to support life in the past.
The $US2.5 billion craft landed in the Gale Crater on August 6, opening a new chapter in the history of interplanetary exploration.
Earth-bound Foursquare users will be able to earn Curiosity-themed virtual badges at the social network for check-ins at labs, science centres or other locations that inspire interest in technology, maths and engineering.
People using Foursquare can keep up with Curiosity as the rover explores Mars, checking in at key locations and posting photos and tips, according to NASA.
NASA launched its alliance with Foursquare two years ago with astronaut Doug Wheelock checking in from the International Space Station.
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