What the US government’s space agency lacks in funding, it makes up for in buzz. NASA has made itself “the darling of the internet” through humble-yet-shrewd use of more than 500 official social media accounts.
Now NASA is rewarding—and leveraging—its millions of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram followers by hosting exclusive behind-the-scenes conferences at NASA centers across the US.
The application process is open until Tuesday, Feb. 2, and the “State of NASA” special events will all be held on Feb. 9 at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, the Johnson Space Center in Texas, and seven other locations.
Between 12 and 40 people will be invited to each location. The dozen guests at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley will get an inside look at the agency’s recent collaborations with Nissan and Google on self-driving cars, and with Amazon on low-altitude drones. The 25 people who visit the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on the other hand, will learn about preparations for NASA’s upcoming Orion spacecraft launch, as well as the agency’s partnerships with Boeing and SpaceX for commercial space flight. And those who attend the event at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, are promised a chance to climb inside a mockup of the Orion spacecraft.
The way to get invited to one of these events, of course, is to show off impressive social media credentials, such as:
- “the potential to reach a large number of people using digital platforms”
- “a unique audience, separate and distinctive from traditional news media and/or NASA audiences”
- “an established history of posting content on social media platforms”
- “previous postings that are highly visible, respected and widely recognized”
“Selection,” says NASA, “is not random.”