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Britney Spears to Mars Rover: What's New on the Red Planet?

Artist's Conception of Curiosity Mars Rover
This artist concept features NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, a mobile robot for investigating Mars' past or present ability to sustain microbial life. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech )

Pop star Britney Spears is more than a music diva. She's also, apparently, a Mars rover fan.

The singer gave a Twitter shout-out this week to NASA's newest robot on the Red Planet, the Mars rover Curiosity, which landed on Aug. 5.

"So @MarsCuriosity … does Mars look the same as it did in 2000?" Spears, 30, asked the Curiosity rover on Tuesday (Aug. 14) via her Twitter @britneyspears. She also posted a link to her 2000 music video "Oops! … I Did It Again."

The memorable video features Spears, clad in body-hugging red latex, dancing on a fictional Mars (where she's the Martian) with a visiting astronaut, who ultimate presents her with a shiny jewel-studded necklace.

According to the Curiosity rover, Mars is still a happening place, even without Spears' dance moves.

"Hey Brit Brit. Mars is still looking good," the rover's Twitter feed answered back. "Maybe someday an astronaut will bring me a gift, too. Drill bits crossed ;)." 

To be clear, the Curiosity rover's Twitter messages don't come from Mars. (Its human handlers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., take care of that.) But the rover is definitely a social media juggernaut.

As of today (Aug. 17), the rover has 1,030,917 followers on Twitter. That's a giant leap over the rover's Facebook fan base, which currently rates at 286,495 Likes.

When Curiosity landed on Mars, NASA organized a social media blitz to reach out to the public, with Twitter events at major space centers across the country, as well as at museums and other participating centers.

The $2.5 billion Mars rover is expected to spend two years exploring the Red Planet's Gale Crater to determine if the region could have once supported primitive microbial life. The car-size Curiosity weighs a ton and is the largest rover ever sent to another world.

Today, rover mission scientists announced the first driving destination for Curiosity, a spot called Glenelg, which is about a one- or two-month drive away. The science team also picked the first rock target for Curiosity's laser, a stone dubbed N165. The rover will blast N165 sometime in the next few days to test out the laser, which allows Curiosity to determine a rock's chemical makeup by analyzing its vaporized bits.

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Tariq Malik

SPACE.COM EDITOR IN CHIEF — Tariq joined the team in 2001 as a staff writer, and later editor, covering human spaceflight, exploration and space science. He became's Managing Editor in 2009. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Google+, Twitter and on Facebook.