NASA opens registration for 2020 Mars rover virtual social launch event

NASA can't invite the public to witness its 2020 Perseverance rover launch for Mars in person later this month, but it does have an alternative plan: a virtual social gathering. The space agency has announced opened registration for its '#CountdownToMars Social,' one that will take place in a Facebook group. Anyone who agrees to the terms can join and participate in the group, which includes social badges, real-time access to experts, and more.

The 2020 Perseverance Mars rover is scheduled to launch from Florida on July 30 via the Atlas V rocket. NASA says that it has final preparations on this launch currently underway, but the coronavirus pandemic and resulting social distancing measures mean the public can't participate in this launch. Instead, they can join together in a Facebook group.

NASA says that anyone can join this group, but they'll first have to answer a few questions and agree to follow the guidelines of the group. Once in, the participants will get a NASA Social badge, access to a virtual Kennedy Space Center tour, real-time access to NASA's rover team members, plus there will be a livestream of the rover's launch for Mars.

NASA says that it will be considering every social media application 'on a case-by-case basis,' so it's unclear how many people will get access to the group. Registration opened on Friday, July 17, and the virtual tours are scheduled to start on July 29, the day before the Perseverance launch date.

If you don't get into the social group or you'd rather avoid Facebook, NASA will also have pre-launch activities and the launch livestream on other platforms, as well. The public will be able to watch the content on YouTube, Twitter, NASA TV, and other social destinations, plus they can comment and interact with the team using the #CountdownToMars hashtag on social media.

Until then, head over to NASA's 'Mars Photo Booth' tool to generate your own Martian image.