Kristof, looking at your post, i couldn’t resist but thinking: the Mars Exploration Rover Mission should’ve been using the web! From a scientific point of view, the mission was a success. But what about the media? Did the story of those two brave robots really break anything? Well, it did at the start, but now, more then three years into the mission and a with fair amount of miles on record, how much media exposure do they get now? Well, not quite so much. Though the photos are still quite spectacular, the next time we here from those robots in mainstream media, is when they finally die.
But what if the web acted as a platform? What if the JPL and NASA bobo’s start using all those Web 2.0 toys to enhance exposure? How about Flickr to distribute all those wonderfull media? It would be infinitely cool to get those pictures pushed through syndication! How about a video-dairy on YouTube? Okay, rocketpeople don’t really have time to make those, but still… And what about Twitter and Pownce? Those robots were designed and built long before those even were thought of as a concept, but how hard can it be to translate the highlights from the transmissionlogs into simple, understandable things such as ‘exploring this rock’, ‘taking another picture of a panorama’, ‘doing some self-diagnosis’ or ‘uh-oh! Sandstorm heading this way! Better conserve battery-power!’
I think it would make the results of such projects better accessible, more tangible and therefore improve our grasp over other worlds. It would demonstrate that ‘rocketscience’ should not be some expensive leisure that’s only meant to be enjoyed by a select few. Finally, exposure means comprehension about why we are still doing this! And – of course – it means hard cash! Something NASA can use to fund new exciting projects.
Then again, I would already be happy if they’d done away with the butt-ugly HTML/JS spaghetti that’s supposed to be their main website.