And now, a Science News Bulletin from our president’s tiny hands straight to your eyeballs: The moon is actually a part of Mars, did you know? Perhaps you thought that Mars, the fourth planet from the sun, was a distinct entity from the space rock that orbits our own planet (Earth), but Donald Trump sees things differently.
On Friday afternoon, he tweeted: “For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about the moon — We did that 50 years ago. They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense, and Science!”
It’s a weird flex for a man who previously ordered NASA to “refocus America’s space program on human exploration and discovery” specifically on the moon, but to be fair, part of Trump’s astronomical vision is firmly anchored to what he hopes will be “an eventual mission to Mars, and perhaps someday, to many worlds beyond.” (Please keep in mind, too, that self-contradiction remains an evergreen component of the president’s personality.)
Trump loves (and fears?) space, and keeps insisting the Department of Defense and the Pentagon create a Space Force as a sixth branch of the country’s military. Its official task would be guarding the U.S. against “the growing security threats emerging in space,” although prospective logos for the unit suggest the Red Planet could play a murky role therein. Still, Mars has long been the end goal of, and the moon a mere stopover in, the president’s planned space odyssey.
Still, his vice-president and head of the National Space Council, Mike Pence, recently committed to making the United States “the first nation to return astronauts to the moon in the 21st century.” And then, consider Trump’s proposed financial injection into NASA’s moon coffers. The agenda really feels unambiguous: “We are going back to the moon, then Mars.”
Today’s declaration would appear to throw a big wrench in the larger plan, though, because if the moon is Mars, and the moon is also been-there-done-that, then I guess we’re … just going to stay here for now? Your guess is as good as mine. The Hill suspects his tweet referenced the aforementioned “Moon to Mars” plan, outlined on NASA’s website, which … it might! But then again, who can ever really be sure?