For Your Consideration


    What do NASA/JPL; Robert Downey Jr.; The Rolling Stones and Mars have in common?

    The stars aligned beneath the stars at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California on Aug. 22, 2019 as 60,000 music fans and people all over the world celebrated the informal naming of a rock on Mars as "Rolling Stones Rock." This wasn't an ordinary rock: the golf ball-sized rock apparently rolled about 3 feet (1 meter) as NASA’s InSight spacecraft landed on Mars on Nov. 26, 2018, leaving a series of intriguing divots on the Martian surface. It was the farthest NASA had seen a rock roll while landing on another planet.

    The Numbers

    “While, in the grand scheme of things, naming a little rock after The Rolling Stones may not seem like such a big deal…as my wife and I stood watching the Stones do a blistering performance of ‘Sympathy For the Devil’, the family next to us were discussing Mars asking what the InSight lander was doing on the Red Planet. So, mission success, NASA. Mission success.”
    ~ Ian O’Neill, space blogger

    Robert Downey Jr. posted a cryptic video the morning of Aug. 22—a video that he conceptualized and produced in collaboration with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The video fueled intense speculation and quickly went viral (now with 8.7 million views on Instagram and more than 3 million views on Twitter.) As interest continued to build, Downey, Jr. took the stage just before the concert to the surprise and delight of music fans, announcing a plan to name the rock and (Downey’s idea) to ask fans to concur.

    Mick Jagger later acknowledged the honor from the stage saying NASA had given the band something it’s always dreamed of. “I can’t believe it. I want to bring it back and put it on our mantelpiece,” he said to the cheering crowd.

    Headlines and social media posts about “Rolling Stones Rock’ poured in from more than 60 countries with more than 19 million engagements.

    Instagram Highlights

    This Robert Downey Jr. video on Instagram was the top-performing post on any platform, with almost 3.3 million likes and more than 19,000 comments, potentially reaching more than 44 million followers. Downey himself was the creative genius behind the video, saying, “This may be the most exciting thing I’ve ever done.”

    Twitter Conversations

    NASA unveiled “Rolling Stones Rock” to its millions of Twitter followers, calling it the “most ambitious crossover announcement in space.” Downey, Jr. later retweeted that “sometimes the world does seriously cool stuff.” @Rolling Stones enthused on Twitter with “Tonight was out of this world.” It was the perfect storm of three of the biggest brands in the universe.


    One of NASA’s core mandates is to bring the public along for every discovery, and this alignment of Mars and stars is an excellent example of the power of celebrity endorsement to reach new audiences, from network news to Rolling Stone magazine to a local newspaper in Pasadena.

    National Broadcast: Good Morning America, What do Robert Downey Jr., the Rolling Stones and NASA have in common?

    Entertainment News: Rolling Stone, NASA Names Rolling Stone on Mars After Rolling Stones

    Local News: Pasadena Star News, How The Rolling Stones, Robert Downey Jr and NASA named a Martian rock