Communicating the Science of Nasa's Maven Mission through Public Engagement

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Tom Mason, Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, Boulder, CO, United States, Laura M Peticolas, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, United States and Erin L Wood, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States
As education, public outreach, and communications professionals, we see the direct benefits of online outreach and other public engagement strategies in communicating complex scientific concepts. While public understanding of science and scientific literacy rates has stagnated at best, online engagement has never been more active. About 40% of Americans receive information about science and technology primarily from online sources; however, the ability to pursue enhanced learning opportunities is directly correlated with higher education and income.

The MAVEN E/PO team has recognized an opportunity to bring the science of the mission to a growing, online community of engaged learners and potential supporters of future scientific research and data. We have taken a wide variety of approaches to educate the public—particularly non-traditional audiences—about a mission that is not as “sexy” as many other NASA missions, but is critical to understanding the evolution of Mars over time as part of an ongoing, long-term effort by NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. We will highlight some of the tools—including online platforms—that we have used to share the science of MAVEN and will present preliminary evaluation results from our education and public outreach projects.