NASA launched a strategic partnership with location-based social networking site foursquare in 2010 with the first-ever check-in from the International Space Station (ISS) by astronaut Doug Wheelock. Now the space agency has gone one better with the first check-in on another planet thanks to its Curiosity Mars rover.

Since fellow foursquare users will have a hard time checking in on the Red Planet themselves, they’ll instead be able to earn a Curiosity-themed badge for visiting locations relating to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The badge will be available later this year and is designed to spark the scientific curiosity of foursquare users by encouraging them to visit science centers, laboratories and museums.

This is similar to the approach taken at the start of the NASA/foursquare partnership between NASA and foursquare that awarded a NASA Explorer badge for check-ins at NASA-related locations across the U.S.

"NASA is using foursquare as a tool to share the rover's new locations while exploring Mars," said David Weaver, associate administrator for communications at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "This will help to involve the public with the mission and give them a sense of the rover's travels through Gale Crater."

Curiosity began its planned 23-month long mission after touching down in Gale Crater last month. Since then, it’s received a brain transplant, conducted its first rock inspection, fired its laser and found an ancient stream bed. Now foursquare users will be able to keep tabs on the rover as it continues its exploration of Mars, checking in at key locations and the posting photos as it goes.

Source: NASA, foursquare