The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has become a familiar search term through the development of the Internet. The government agency has made several technological advancements, research innovations, and explored the unknown. Looking back, NASA started in 1958 and put the first man on the moon in 1969. This was followed by several other missions of space exploration to capture and retrieve data and invaluable information about what may be out there beyond our own planet. Currently, there is more transparency with the funding and agenda for the program, but people question what NASA has planned next. From NASA’s credible past and to its unknown future, I wanted to analyze some of the top search engine trends on the internet.
Figure 1, Google Search Bar (https://www.google.com/)
After looking at the search results of “Why is NASA…”, there was a mix of autosuggestions for the current times. I decided to look at Google, Microsoft Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo for my analysis tools. There were some trends that had positive and negative connotations but included some relevant questions that the general public is curious about. Some common results include asking about the importance, reliability, and what NASA is up to. I find it interesting that public visibility of NASA’s accomplishments is limiting as fewer people are exposed to their work. I feel that the search results present a distinction in various age groups searching these terms. For example, younger generations might be searching for more of the “why is NASA trendy,” while older generations might be asking “why is NASA now more accurate and precise.” The younger generation are dreamers and curious about exploration and the brand itself. Younger audiences might also be more connected than we think to the brand by seeing its logo on clothing items as well. The older generations have grown up with NASA’s work and might be more curious about the next thing towards space exploration and are asking more questions that might require data or specific information. These differences in the input these search generations retrieve and provide to other users signify where NASA is in its public outreach and societal views of its progress. As an organization, NASA has the ability to lead conversations about space exploration and themselves as a leader in their field. Their work is prevalent to the advancements of society and they have optimized their results based on these search terms.
NASA’s major events and resource allocation can become political and can make people wonder if the program is useful, which can be seen throughout these results. People are asking when things will happen and one autosuggestion states, “why is NASA so slow,” which was surprising. There can be a sense of a negative tone with some of these curious questions as they use direct language. It feels that most people have their underlying beliefs about NASA before asking their questions and are previously familiar with the organization. The search terms and results are much more about how NASA is doing its work rather than who they are. This familiarity is part of the culture around NASA and the results from the internet. As the auto-suggestion feature is a prediction based on how we all search for terms on the internet, NASA’s search predictions are pushed through curiosity and wonder rather than entertainment or based on fantasy.
Figure 2, DuckDuckGo Search Bar (https://duckduckgo.com/)
There were even some recent upbringings with a suggestion on DuckDuckGo, “why is NASA hitting an asteroid.” This must be one of the more popular searches lately with NASA and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory’s success with their DART mission. It was exciting to see such a close connection to one of the more popular search results as a Hopkins student. Looking at popularity with representation is interesting as it is pushing the genre for space exploration showing that people are actively searching these topics.
Figure 3, NASA looking over Artemis I (https://inet.detik.com/science/d-6271427/nasa-kembali-tunda-peluncuran-misi-artemis-i-ke-bulan-untuk-kedua-kalinya)
On the other hand, there were some suggestions that were more on the intriguing side. It seems that Yahoo and DuckDuckGo had more positive search suggestions than Google and Microsoft Bing. This made sense to me as most of the population uses Google and Microsoft Bing over the other two across the world. Some arguments that might be looked at through these search engines are the need for NASA in our society and the credibility of the information they are providing to the public. There is this relationship between the organization and the people that are being questioned in some of these searches and I think NASA puts effort into its public relations to try to answer these questions on its website and social platforms. These search engines provide a general consensus of questions that are trying to dive deeper into NASA itself. Safiya Umoja Noble, the author of Algorithms of Oppression, mentions that “we have more data and technology than ever in our daily lives and more social, political and economic inequality and injustice to go with it.” She is explaining how these behaviors and practices are intertwined and can be furthered through our current advancements. It questions who and how we can make these platforms more inclusive and accessible. Nobel calls out Google directly and how it “is a powerful and important resource for organizing information and facilitating social cooperation and contact, while it simultaneously reinforces hegemonic narratives and exploits its users.” There is a call to action regarding representation not only of the people, but organizations like NASA to find this balance of purity that is not undermined.
NASA Image Reference.
n.d. Bing. Accessed October 24, 2022. https://www.bing.com/.
n.d. DuckDuckGo — Privacy, simplified. Accessed October 24, 2022. https://duckduckgo.com/.
n.d. NASA Created – HISTORY. Accessed October 24, 2022.
n.d. NASA.gov. Accessed October 24, 2022. https://www.nasa.gov/.
n.d. Yahoo | Mail, Weather, Search, Politics, News, Finance, Sports & Videos. Accessed
October 24, 2022. https://www.yahoo.com/.
Noble, Safiya U. 2018. Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism. N.p.: