Astronaut 'Checks In' on Foursquare From Space
Good luck trying to oust this out-of-this-world mayor on Foursquare.
NASA astronaut Doug Wheelock, the space station commander, became the first person to use Foursquare, a mobile social networking application, in space today (Oct. 22) after "checking in" from the International Space Station.
Foursquare is an application that allows users to "check in" to venues wherever they go, and earn rewards (in the form of Foursquare badges ) along the way for activities and experiences. The service can also be used to find nearby friends and get helpful tips about places.
If a user checks in somewhere more times than anyone else, he or she becomes the "mayor" of the venue. It can even get competitive, because current mayors can be "ousted" from their positions if someone else makes more visits.
Digital space badges
Wheelock's check-in from the space station unlocked the new NASA Explorer badge. The accompanying message read: "You are now 220 miles above Earth traveling at 17,500 mph and unlocked the NASA Explorer Badge! Show this badge and get a free scoop of astronaut ice cream."
The event helped kick off a new NASA partnership with Foursquare to connect its users to the space agency, enabling them to explore destinations beyond our home planet and throughout the universe.
"Check-ins from around the world have been cool, but this blew my mind!" Dennis Crowley, chief executive officer and co-founder of Foursquare, said in a statement. "We're psyched to partner with NASA to help users explore the space program and the universe."
Wheelock launched on a Russian Soyuz rocket to the space station on June 15. He assumed command of the orbiting laboratory and its Expedition 25 crew on Sept. 22. During his time in space, he and fellow NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson conducted three spacewalks to replace a faulty cooling pump module on the station's truss.
When Wheelock completes his stay aboard the space station and returns to Earth at the end of November, the NASA Explorer badge will be available for regular Foursquare users to earn, NASA officials said.
The partnership between NASA and Foursquare also includes the launch of a customizable NASA homepage, where the agency will provide official tips and information about the nation's space program in locations throughout the country.
"Through this partnership, when Foursquare users check in to NASA sites, they will discover interesting things that happen at each of the agency's locations," NASA officials said.
The NASA network
This is not the first time that NASA has embraced social media. NASA centers, specific missions, and most of the agency's astronauts maintain active Twitter accounts, where they post updates, pictures and announcements.
In January of this year, astronauts on the International Space Station were also equipped with live Internet connection for the first time – enabling crewmembers to post Twitter updates live from space.
NASA has also partnered with Gowalla, a mobile and web service that aims to inspire discovery by connecting people with the places around them.
Gowalla users can find and collect four NASA-related virtual items by checking in to NASA visitor centers, agency-related locations, or one of the more than 400 museums, science centers, planetariums, observatories, parks, nature centers, zoos and aquariums that are part of NASA's Museum Alliance.