Mars space
If you want to be surrounded by other earthlings as you watch NASA's Mars rovers land on the red planet, head for Times Square. The rovers, the space agency's biggest hits, will be live on the big screen. - 

Jeremy Hobson: This Sunday night, NASA's Curiosity Rover will be landing on Mars. And the $2.5 billion mission will be getting some big time publicity. The landing will broadcast live on the huge Toshiba Screen in New York's Times Square.

Sally Herships reports.

Sally Herships: Just in case you didn't know, NASA isn't allowed to advertise. So when Toshiba offered the space administration the chance to broadcast in pricey Times Square, it was all systems go.

Sarah Ramsey: This is the American Space Agency. This is the American People's Space agency.

Sarah Ramsey works with NASA. She says this is the hardest mission NASA has ever attempted in the history of robotic, planetary exploration. So, the agency wants people to see it. And to know where their tax dollars are going. In this case, to Mars with rovers.

Mary Lynne Dittmar: It is their best-selling hit.

Dr. Mary Lynne Dittmar is a consultant in space -- the industry. She says in 2004, when NASA also sent rovers to Mars, she did a study where she found consumer interest in the rovers to be near adoration.

Dittmar: These two little critters that just kept on going. There were windstorms. There was dust all over the panels. They were declared dead on more than one occasion. And so there was drama.

Dittmar says with all the federal budget problems, it's likely NASA is counting on intense geek love to help raise support for the space program.

From planet earth, I'm Sally Herships for Marketplace.