CSIRO Tweetup Follows Curiosity Launch from Tidbinbilla

NASA's Latest Mars Rover, Curiosity, Launched Safely
CSIRO Tweetup follows the Action from Tidbinbilla

Fifty enthusiastic "tweeps" gathered at the Canberra Deep Space Tracking Station at Tidbinbilla for the #CSIROTweetup in celebration of the launch of NASA's latest Mars rover, Curiosity. As well as sharing the experience with their Twitter followers, they also communicated via Twitter with the #NASATweetup at Cape Canaveral.

Curiosity was launched at 10:02am EST on 26th November (2:02am for the tired tweeps in Canberra). About 30 minutes later the two 34 metre antennas were ready to acquire the signal from the spacecraft's cruise stage as it came over the western horizon in Canberra. In less than a minute from the expected time, the two antennas slowly began moving as they followed Curiosity across the sky. 

"This whole experience has created something new and exciting in the way we communicate science with the public. Getting people directly involved in these events and allowing them to share that experience with potentially tens of thousands of other people online is what a tweetup is all about. The more we do this, the more the public will come to appreciate that science plays an important part in their life on Earth, even when we are going off to explore Mars." said Tweetup host, Glen Nagle

As part of the event the tweeps were treated to a behind the scenes tour of the tracking station and an opportunity to meet Australian scientists and engineers working on current space projects in Australia. Tidbinbilla is currently supporting 45 NASA missions, including the Voyager probes which are still sending back very weak signals. The speakers covered everything from the selection of the Curiosity landing site to the development of a new instrument for the NASA Grail Follow-on mission, and an update on the results of the Hayabusa mission which landed in Woomera. Many tweeps commented that they had no idea that Australia was involved in so many space projects. Visit the #CSIROTweetup website for a full wrapup of the event and some more great photos.

As someone who was lucky enough to participate in the Tweetup, I would like to thank Glen Nagle and the rest of the CSIRO team for hosting an extraordinary event. This was an excellent way to give people an insiders view of CSIRO's activities and the contribution Australia makes to the global space industry. I look forward to many more CSIROTweetups and to the safe landing of Curiosity in August 2012.