NASA's PR department has a pretty solid track record, but the Curiosity landing video above shows they've now upped their game. The animation is top-notch, and overall the video is stylistically more like a movie trailer than a technical demonstration. It excites and builds up anticipation for the landing that we now know has succeeded as planned.

And is there any reason why marketing for a blockbuster movie and a Mars rover should be all that different from each other? Both are multi-million dollar projects, and somebody needs to pay the bills. In the case of NASA, their funding comes mostly from the US taxpayers - and in the case of a major movie release, the creators hope that enough people will purchase a ticket to make a profit. While NASA operates on a longer timescale, I'd imagine its funding would also dry up if it didn't manage to repeatedly convince the public that space exploration is still worthwhile.

Taking this thought further, why should super-awesome interplanetary robotic tank projects even have to rely on government funding, if the almost equally expensive movies are easily able to succeed without it? Multiple recent Kickstarter campaigns have secured several millions of dollars for technical and artistic endeavors. What if instead of a new gadget one got an engraving of one's name sent to orbit Jupiter, while helping to advance science in the process? I could see a good many people signing up for that.

The trick is that people hoping to do this awesome stuff also need to have a grasp of explaining the awesomeness to the common man. In the modern world, there are awesome technical innovations all around us, but they're commonly perceived as just being ordinary. On the other hand, what first-world kid would not have been let down when that long-awaited toy really wasn't as fun as it looked on TV? As a species, we would be much better off if we managed to make the awesome stuff to look as awesome as it is, and the boring stuff look as boring as it is.