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Dolls in space: Mars Explorer Barbie joins Curiosity Rover

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It’s been one year since the Curiosity Rover landed on Mars. To commemorate the occasion, NASA teamed up with the world’s largest toy company, Mattel, to bring us Mars Explorer Barbie.

"Ready to add her signature pink splash to the ‘red planet,' Barbie doll is outfitted in a stylish spacesuit with pink reflective accents, helmet, space pack and signature pink space boots," Mattel stated on Monday. "Adding to her resume of more than 130 careers, Mars Explorer Barbie doll inspires girls to be adventurous and to always reach for the stars!"

They consulted with NASA's extravehicular activity suit team on the design to ensure it captures “the spirit and style of space explorers," Mattel told Space.com. (They worked with NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Hot Wheels Action Packs in the 1990s.)

In addition to a cardboard cutout of the rover (in pink), the packaging includes facts about U.S. female space explorers to promote Women@NASA.

"Barbie continues to take on aspirational roles while also serving as a role model and agent of change for girls," Mattel said. "The brand has launched several dolls focusing on professions underrepresented by women, and specifically on STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] subjects." The new doll was also named Career of the Year for 2013.

This is Mattel's first Barbie promoted as produced in collaboration with NASA, but this isn’t the first time she’s worn an astronaut outfit. Space.com compiled a little history:

1965 Barbie Miss Astronaut was released two years after Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the world's first woman to fly into space. Inspired by U.S. Mercury pressure suits, she and Ken Mr. Astronaut had silver suits, brown mittens and boots, and white helmets.

1985 Astronaut Barbie’s silver and purplish pink suit had big shoulders and optional mini skirt with sparkly tights. (I totally had this one.)

1994 To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the first moon landing, Astronaut Barbie included: “authentic looking NASA helmet and spacesuit,” glow-in-the-dark moon rocks, and Apollo 11 anniversary emblem.

1998 In a partnership with the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Barbie went to Space Camp. Included: NASA logo cap, miniature space food, space travelers checks and a graduation certificate. Reissued a decade later with a pink baby tee and a mood star necklace, also sold in life-size versions.

2012 A month after the rover landing, Mattel released a Hot Wheels model of Curiosity (1:64 scale miniature).

Popular Science made a list of helpful advice for Barbie, addressing problems like bone density loss and sleeping and hair styling in zero gravity -- and the fact that she should probably get some gloves to protect against radiation and -80 degrees Fahrenheit cold. Although, maybe it doesn't matter: Mars is a one-way trip.

[Via Space.com]

Images: Mattel

— By on August 7, 2013, 11:19 AM PST

Janet Fang

Contributing Editor

Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure