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Curiosity rover's Twitter feed displays moxie, gumption

The official Twitter feed of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has proven wildly popular, thanks in large part to the pluck, spunk, grit, and bravura of the tweets themselves.

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To aid in speed, McGregor said, at least one person on a spacecraft's social team must be authorized to tweet breaking news without higher approval. This saves the step of waiting for a supervisor to give the all-okay. In Curiosity's case, McGregor can approve her own tweets.

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"Because I'm right there in the middle of everything, it makes it simple to work with this team and get those tweets out," she said.

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NASA broadcasts some information outside of press conferences, such as uploading Curiosity's latest pictures to the mission website. Many people visit the sites several times daily, looking for uploads. In some cases, fans even have built computer scripts to scrape the new images as soon as they are available.

In recognition of this, Curiosity's social team will sometimes cull the best pictures as they are uploaded and mention them on the Twitter feed and Facebook page, McGregor said.

NASA has followed these social media procedures for previous missions. What makes Curiosity unique, though, is the reach and composition of its audience, which goes beyond the usual NASA fans.

For example, McGregor said, Curiosity's Facebook statistics show about 43 percent of the audience is female; in contrast, the followers of the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory page are about 34 percent female. (About 2 percent of the audience for each Facebook page does not report gender.)

NASA hopes to parlay this interest into offering career advice for students and women following the mission . This usually takes place in the form of answering questions about how to work for the agency.

"If we get more women who might be interested in a space mission," McGregor said,"they may also be interested in getting into a career in space."

Follow Elizabeth Howell @howellspace, or SPACE.com @Spacedotcom. We're also on Facebook and Google+.

Copyright 2012 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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