Repeatable Measurement of Twitter User Impact NASA and the Great American Eclipse of 2017

Mykel SHUMAY, Douglas SPENCER, Gautam Srivastava, Douglas PICKERING


NASA, part of the frontier of human knowledge, has been relied upon to educate the public
on astronomical matters for many decades. NASA has provided not only North America but the entire
world with information and events pertaining to our solar system and beyond. With the Great American
Eclipse of 2017, NASA’s production was crucial to the general public’s awareness and understanding of
the event. To date, it may have been one of NASA’s largest productions of an event spanning many
social media platforms and hundreds of media outlets. With the eruption of data mining avenues and
techniques available, being able to study and quantify such major events from a “reach” perspective has
become of utmost importance for many of the groups involved. Our goal with this paper is to understand
how the public perceived the social media coverage that NASA had provided, specifically in the world
of Twitter, a free social networking microblogging service that allows registered members to broadcast
short posts called tweets. We accomplish this through sentiment analysis and the spotting of trends
within Twitter data. Furthermore, we follow a framework of study that allows simple and cost-effective
analysis of future discrete events of arbitrary nature.

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