It’s refreshing to see that even as the 30th Olympiad took place last week, the world still froze at 3.31pm on Monday 6th August to focus its attention on science. People from across the globe joined together to feel the excitement of the Mars Science Laboratory, aka Curiosity, land on the Red Planet. Social media erupted as the Rover went through its seven minutes of terror, landing safely on Mars.
What is even more interesting is that it is not only space enthusiasts who are learning from NASA’s momentous feat; but entrepreneurs and businessmen and women alike are taking note of some of the business strategies employed by NASA to achieve this successful landing.
Research and Development
Firstly, the mission emphasises the importance of research and development. While sure, we don’t all have a spare $US1.8 billion lying around in our wallets for spacecraft development and science investigations, we can acknowledge that 72% of the $US2.5 billion price tag was spent on R&D. This is no small amount, and is reflected by the proportions spent on R&D on many projects, not just ones of this magnitude.
Risk-taking and planning for success
The risk of Curiosity actually landing on Mars was pretty abysmal, at around 40%. This highlights the necessity of risk-taking; without accepting this risk, then the benefits of this mission would not be realised (because the mission would not have taken place). For improved results with our risk-taking we need to ensure we plan, plan and plan some more! Curiosity, likeRome, was not built in a day. The planning stage of the Curiosity mission took many years, dating back to at least 2004 when NASA first announced an opportunity for researchers to propose science investigations for the Mars Science Laboratory mission.
Team work and collaboration
The Curiosity mission also heavily relies on strong team work and collaboration to achieve its successes. With close to 300,000 employees working for NASA, you would imagine the manpower for this program is enormous. Working together efficiently and effectively is a must, by ensuring each person has a specific role in the mission helps with accountability and cohesiveness. No matter the size of a team, it is important to specify each person’s role and responsibilities and how they contribute to the final goal, whether it is writing a report, or landing a rover on another planet!
Social media and personality
Finally, embracing the benefits of social media and creating a bit of spice in your Twitter or Facebook life can do wonders. Curiosity has its own Twitter account, with a healthy 986,024 followers as of today; but what makes this account different is Curiosity’s personality. While the @NASA Twitter account is the formal account for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, @MarsCuriosity provides quirky, informal updates. Such as “Heads up! No, really. My head’s up. Mast deploy successful. I’m looking around, taking Navcam images #MSL” on 8 August. Adding a bit of personality can do wonders for generating greater interest and increasing your social media followers.
As we can see, Curiosity is teaching us much more than whether Mars is/was habitable for microbial life. Over the next 23 months, I have no doubt that we will continue to gain valuable insight about Mars, space, and how NASA can shed light on practical business tips that we can all use.
This post was contributed by the talented Elise Crabb, Senior Communications Officer, Office of the Chief Scientist.