This article details the latest updates about the NASA InSight Mars lander and its mission status.
We covered everything about the InSight lander BEFORE it landed on the Martian surface. But now that the little lander made contact with the Red Planet, we have an active Twitter account giving us daily updates about InSight’s activities.
Many reading this may have seen the initial photos from the surface of Mars.
New images showcase the same thing — this time without the lens cap on. You also get an overhead view of the lander, too, showing a dusty, sunlit “sky” overhead. Yet this all comes in a well-communicated package in a quick Tweet.
How does this affect our attachment to and engagement with InSight — a machine?
I landed on #Mars a week ago today. Here’s what I’ve been up to so far:
✅ Snap first images
✅ Open solar panels
✅ Check health status
✅ Power on instruments
✅ Take preliminary science data for calibration
🔲 Extend arm
🔲 Take pics of deck
— NASAInSight (@NASAInSight) December 3, 2018
How Personality Elicits Attachment and Engagement
I’m a total sucker for anthropomorphizing inanimate objects. And this Martian space lander doohickey proves no exception — especially when NASA operates the Twitter in this adorable and informative way.
You see this tactic increasingly when it comes to various tech-related innovations.
Think back to the mid-1990s when all the kids wanted a Tamagotchi. It was an electronic “pet” that you had to feed and play with by pressing a series of buttons. If you didn’t, it would die…but you could just reset it and get a new “pet”.
This transitioned into things like Neopets — a website where you cared for digital pets and played minigames in a fictitious world.
Every day, our capacity to impress human emotions onto inanimate objects grows stronger, reinforced by inventions and technology around us. Coincidentally (or not), marketing strategies reflect this trend toward personalization and authenticity, too.
Humans make checklists — why not robotic space machines controlled by humans?
This type of personalization establishes a relationship between the object and whoever engages with the media about the object.
Steadily easing into my workflow. It’s been a busy few days and now, a new picture of Mars without the camera lens cover. Plus, a new view from my robotic arm camera. Read: https://t.co/5qCjNVZaRs
— NASAInSight (@NASAInSight) December 1, 2018
The Kind of Influencer I Can Really Follow
Referring to the InSight lander as an “influencer” might feel like many things: premature, bizarre, or flat out wrong. But NASA is using the same kinds of marketing strategies on social media that an influencer like Kim Kardashian might (minus the “tummy tea”).
In perusing the Twitter feed for Insight, I recalled an article I wrote about John Oliver during his Marlon Bundo craze. It examines the power of a personality to evoke actions out of their audience.
But it also explores the ways in which this personality prompts their audience to do so.
Giving “sneak peeks” and daily updates is just one tool in the social media influencer arsenal. And that’s what we see showcased on the NASA Twitter for Insight.
Now, this could simply be a cute way to go about updating the world about a significantly incredible accomplishment — landing on and photographing the surface of another planet.
Or maybe it’s a tool to inspire more people to reach for the stars or simply spark interest in all things NASA related. I don’t work for NASA’s social media team, so I have no clue.
As InSight continues to give us updates, we will see how user engagement ebbs and flows and whether or not this personalization strategy pays off for NASA.