Musk might need some help from our next winner if he ever wants a Martian colony to work out.
MARS CURIOSITY ROVER
After spending 10 years and $2.5 billion on the project, NASA saw its Mars Curiosity Rover plop down in Mars' Gale Crater on Aug. 6.
The landing was broadcast live over the Internet, showing a raucous NASA crew hugging and celebrating once the unmanned vehicle safely landed. President Barack Obama praised the event, calling the landing an "unprecedented feat of technology" and a "point of national pride." He would later call the crew at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and call the feat "mind-boggling."
The crew involved with the Rover became so popular, one of its members, Bobak Ferdowsi, became an Internet sensation due to his funky hairdo: starting a meme known as "NASA Mohawk Guy."
Since landing on Mars, the rover has been investigating soil samples to figure out if the planet once harbored life, and whether or not humans will ever be able to colonize on the planet. It looks like NASA will have some time to figure this out. Initially thought to end by 2014, the program was awarded an extension in December, with plans to send another rover to Mars by 2020.
From the origin of the year's best memes to beating back kids who bully bus monitors, Reddit became a household name over the course of 2012. The social news site, run almost completely by its members, released data in June that showed just how powerful the Reddit community can be.
Its most popular channels, known as subreddits, attract millions of pageviews every day, with users contributing to everything from one of the Internet's biggest political forums to bulletin boards full of cute cat photos. "Redditors" were heavily influential in blocking cybersecurity bills put forth by the U.S. government, helping to organize an Internet "blackout" in protest of the Stop Online Privacy Act and Protect IP Act. However, the site saw its fair share of controversy during the year after a Gawker story revealed the identity of the person moderating subreddits where users posted inappropriate photos of underage girls.
The site's crowning achievement in 2012 came when President Barack Obama hosted an "Ask Me Anything" session during his presidential campaign. The conversation was viewed over 1.8 million times, causing the website to suffer server outages during the event. Obama answered questions about the White House beer recipe, student loans, and how young people could register to vote.