NASA’s Jupiter Marketing Not Exactly Out of This World

Space, the banal frontier. Who wouldn't be stoked about an unmanned NASA voyage to Jupiter that will take six and a half years to complete? Still, attempts to quicken the pulse for Mission Juno, which blasts off Aug. 5, in a new spot (below) and interactive website. (Why didn't Big Spaceship get this gig, anyway?) The site works hard to be immersive and informative, but the concept never really gets off the launch pad. Given the scope of the material and its potential to inspire genuine awe, the approach is mostly predictable and uninvolving. Even visually impressive bits, like images of Jupiter that show bands of clouds moving like blood through human arteries, are undercut by copy as dry as a high school textbook. One "fun" touch was just silly, as no one could actually want to put on 3-D glasses to get a 3-D view of the Juno spacecraft. (It's no Millennium Falcon, people!) To be fair, this kind of endeavor is a rough marketing sell. Public enthusiasm for space exploration has been waning since Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Juno won't do much to reverse that decline because it lacks the elements of human drama and personal risk that would make today's overstimulated audience take note. Social media elements probably won't help much, either, as we'll be treated to years of tweets amounting to "Not destroyed by meteors today" before the damn thing reaches its destination. It would be a kick if they did updates in a HAL 9000 voice, but this particular journey to Jupiter would still be far from "the ultimate trip."