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Keywords:

  • colonialism;
  • Mars;
  • media;
  • place creation;
  • space exploration

ABSTRACT. This paper addresses the representation of the planet Mars during the 1997 Mars Pathfinder mission through a content analysis of major U.S. newspapers as well as transcripts of television and radio news shows. Content analysis identified three threads of representation: scientific advance and the search for life, the naming of Martian places, and the Earth analogy. Together these converge in a language of colonialism that both advances the economic goals of the media and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and represents Mars as a space fit for human colonization. This article focuses on how the Sojourner rover technology simulated human activity on the surface of Mars and led to the constitution of Mars as a place of social activity, thereby enabling the language of colonialism.