The Tweetup is expected to culminate in the launch of the Mars Science Laboratory's Curiosity rover aboard an Atlas V rocket from nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
The launch window is scheduled to open at 7:25 a.m. PST (10:25 a.m. EST) on Nov. 25. Curiosity's arrival at Mars' Gale Crater is anticipated in August 2012. During the nearly two-year prime mission, the rover will investigate whether a selected area of Mars offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life and preserved that evidence, if it existed.
Tweetup participants were selected from more than 1,050 people who registered online. They will share their Tweetup experiences with their followers through the social networking site Twitter and other online forums.
Participants represent the United States, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Spain and the United Kingdom. Attendees from the U.S. come from the District of Columbia and 37 states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana,
Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
Beginning at 8 a.m. PST (11 a.m. EST) on Wednesday, Nov. 23, NASA will broadcast a portion of the Tweetup when attendees talk with Jim Green, Planetary Science division director, and Doug McCuistion, Mars Exploration program director, both from NASA Headquarters in Washington. Engineers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., where the rover was designed and built, will speak, as will mission scientists.
Tweetup participants also will tour Kennedy and Cape Canaveral, including a close-up visit to the launch pad. On launch day, they will speak with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden; Leland Melvin, NASA's assistant administrator for education; astronaut Doug Wheelock and Bill Nye the Science Guy.
NASA invited its Twitter followers to attend eight previous launches: NASA's newest Earth-observing satellite, NPP; the twin GRAIL spacecraft bound for the moon; the Juno spacecraft on its way to Jupiter; and five space shuttle missions.
To follow participants on Twitter as they experience the prelaunch events and Curiosity's liftoff, follow the #NASATweetup hashtag and the list of attendees at: https://twitter.com/NASATweetup/mars-curiosity .
JPL manages the mission. NASA's Launch Services Program at Kennedy is managing the launch.
To connect with NASA on Twitter and other social networking sites, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/connect .