The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space created a new mission patch that features Groot and Rocket, the two raccoons from Marvel’s cartoon movies.
The bold move is not the first attempt made by NASA to use pop culture in order to engage with the public. The 2015 “The Martian” movie was integrated into the agency’s social media communications. Other collaborations had been made with Lego and with the Star Wars sequel.
The announcement was made during the 2016 San Diego Comic Con, where thousands of fans were present to enjoy the latest of their favorite comic book, sci-fi and fantasy franchises. The CASIS members organized a panel in which they discussed their Marvel project and presented the material.
The mission patch intends to motivate the new generation of students to involve in space exploration and STEM research. The two characters will also be used in an educational flight contest that aims at encouraging children to join the future generation of engineers and scientists.
Groot and Rocket are two famous characters that appear in “Guardians of the Galaxy”. The patch was designed by a Marvel artist, Juan Doe, who used to design the covers of the magazine.
“These are characters that have a bit of a space-based background, to begin with. So both of [these] characters already embody some of the characteristics associated with what’s happening on the space station”, said Patrick O’Neill, a representative of the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space.
The patch displays Groot and Rocket looking to the International Space Station, surrounded by stars drawn like the flames in the movie. It offers an appealing visual to space enthusiasts and sci-fi fans, and the material will be present on every payload sent to the ISS.
The image of the two cartoon characters placed on the NASA official payloads may be somewhat intriguing, particularly since the patch display the Marvel logo. However, the collaboration could not have worked without Walt Disney Co. receiving its fair share of media benefits.
The CASIS officials explained that their collaboration with Marvel improves the public reach and helps the projects to bring notoriety to the space lab and improve the chances of getting the necessary funding for their science experiments.
This year, the US National Lab plans to conduct more than 100 science investigation on the board of the International Space Station. The tests involve physical and material sciences, technological development and Earth observation. Their purpose is to help space exploration and also to improve the quality of life back on our planet.
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