This morning NASA released the first ever high-resolution photo of Pluto, taken from 476,000 miles away. And that photo is just the beginning. Today is historic for humankind, as the New Horizons spacecraft transmits many more photos of Pluto from today’s flyby of the dwarf planet.
In January 2004, our nation fed on every bit of news around the Mars rover landing, but public interest in space has diminished in the past decade. How does Pluto compare to the most popular film on Earth, Minions?
In this totally not scientific Google Trends chart, I’ve included Minions and Pluto, along with New Horizons and NASA — the latter of which has been on a steady decline of interest since the Mars Rover landing at the beginning of the chart. I’ve also includedShrek, because Shrek 2 was the highest grossing movie of 2004, and the franchise is the closest we have to a Minions of that era. Space X was originally included as a search variable, but its rank was so diminutive that it barely registered on the chart.
What does this teach us about space? Well, it doesn’t say much about space so much as it tells us about the world we live in, where public attention is shaped by massive ad budgets. Even the most awe-inspiring moments struggle to compete for attention againsthalf a billion dollars in promotional partnerships.
One day, I will recall where I was when we put a Minion on the Moon.