In one of the cooler PR campaigns I’ve seen, NASA has built a website posting the e-mail conversations between two LEGO “astrobots” about the Red Rover Mars mission that just launched. While the actual physical astrobots (Biff Starling and Sandy Moondust) can’t be launched because they would melt, Biff’s likeness has been put on a metal magnetic disk bolted to the exterior of the spacecraft. They’ve done a nice job forming at least rudamentary personalities, with Biff being an adventurous but fairly unknowledgeable late addition to the team, and Sandy being a dedicated space explorer who will be going on the next mission and right now is e-mailing Biff from the ground about the information details he’s missed out on. (And while this does play a tiny bit into the detail-oriented woman versus go-out-and-do-it man stereotypes, they clearly needed to have an information misbalance to play out their dialog as they wanted, so no complaints from me on that count.)
NASA is doing this in part to give a more personal tone to updates on this unmanned mission, but obviously there’s a big children’s audience here as well. The entries so far get some good information in there, and I certainly plan to keep reading. I do wonder what they have scripted out in advance and how much they’ll be trying to reflect exactly what is happening on the mission. With the children’s audience, I also wonder if they’ve thought out what they will do if something unfortunate happens to one of the spacecraft. All-in-all, a really cool project, though – a NASA LEGO astrobot weblog could be horribly cheesy, but this one isn’t.[via personal communication]

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