As the Curiosity Mars rover touched down on the Red Planet, the teams at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory were sharing the historic event on Twitter, Facebook, Ustream, YouTube, Google+, Xbox Live, mobile apps and in-real-life landing parties. The Mars Science Laboratory mission propelled the interest and attention of the nation back onto the space program at a time when many thought the curtain had fallen with the last flight of the Space Shuttle. And while the social media campaign – one that showed a hipper, more accessible NASA – became an “overnight success,” it was in fact an ongoing effort that began four years earlier when NASA took its first steps into social media. For NASA and JPL, building a vibrant community of enthusiasts through two-way communication channels has become an integral part of every mission’s success.
Veronica McGregor manages the news and social media office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, overseeing accounts across YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Ustream.tv and Google+. She launched NASA into the Twitterverse in 2008 with @MarsPhoenix, the agency’s first account, which rocketed to the Top 10 based on followers while the mission was ongoing. Current accounts include @MarsCuriosity, @NASAJPL, and @AsteroidWatch. In 2009, Veronica organized NASA’s first Ustream.tv broadcasts with public chat capability, and she introduced the “NASA Tweetup” concept – events designed to bring the public behind the scenes at NASA centers to witness a mission firsthand and speak directly to team members. In addition to social media, Veronica manages traditional media efforts and oversees a video team that produces hundreds of videos each year. In 2010 Forbes.com included her on their list of 20 Inspiring Women to Follow on Twitter. Previously, Veronica worked at CNN as a producer and assignment manager.