NASA's Curiosity Rover Checks In on Foursquare, Aims To Be Mayor of Mars

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Oct. 3 2012 3:28 PM

NASA's Curiosity Rover Checks In on Foursquare, Aims To Be Mayor of Mars

Mars Curiosity rover check-in Foursquare
"One check-in closer to being Mayor of Mars!"

Screenshot / Foursquare

One small step for NASA's social media team, one giant leap for Foursquare.

In a rather brilliant publicity stunt, the Mars Curiosity rover on Wednesday joined the location-based social-media service and checked in from Gale Crater, where it has been snapping photos and poking around the rocks and soil for clues as to whether Mars ever supported life. At around 2 p.m. Wednesday, it posted a picture of its own shadow in the crater with the caption, "One check-in closer to being Mayor of Mars!"

Advertisement

For the uninitiated, a Foursquare user can become "mayor" of a given venue by visiting it and checking in via smartphone more times in a two-month period than anyone else. For businesses, it's a way to make customer loyalty into a game. A local coffee shop, for instance, might reward its Foursquare mayor with a free cup now and then. In this case, Mars probably isn't going to offer NASA any special discount offers, but it's a clever way for NASA to engage with Foursquare's youthful user base as the Curiosity mission wears on.

It's an even bigger boost for Foursquare, a New York-based startup that has long been hyped as "the next Twitter" but is just as often dismissed as boring or annoying. Relying on short messages tied to updates about a user's location, Foursquare seems like an ideal way to keep up with the Rover as it makes its way across the red planet. If only people's check-ins on earth were this interesting, I might actually join.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Photos of the Crowds That Took Over NYC for the People’s Climate March

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Afghan Town With a Legitimately Good Tourism Pitch

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Photography
Sept. 21 2014 11:34 PM People’s Climate March in Photos Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of NYC in the largest climate rally in history.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 22 2014 9:39 AM Adrian Peterson Has a Terrible Contract, and Cutting Him Would Save the Vikings a Lot of Money
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 22 2014 9:12 AM What Is This Singaporean Road Sign Trying to Tell Us?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Science
Sept. 22 2014 8:08 AM Slate Voice: “Why Is So Much Honey Clover Honey?” Mike Vuolo shares the story of your honey.
  Arts
Television
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 7:47 AM Predicting the Future for the U.S. Government The strange but satisfying work of creating the National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends report.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 22 2014 5:30 AM MAVEN Arrives at Mars
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.