I’m not usually one to gloat, but I told you so. Last week’s big announcement that the Mars Curiosity Rover had found something incredible on Mars was a big misunderstanding. Turns out that when NASA said they had made an “earth-shattering” discovery—”one for the history books”—they were talking about the whole Curiosity mission. Which sounds like something you’d tell a child that you want to let down really easy.
Apparently NASA tried to correct the error, but they chose a less than opaque delivery method and picked a time when everybody was on an airplane preparing to eat all the things.
What did I discover on Mars? That rumors spread fast online. My team considers this whole mission “one for the history books”
— Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) November 21, 2012
I was prepared for this disappointment though*. Not only am I familiar with the media running off with a half-cocked story, but this comic was actually born on the eve of the infamous Arsenic Life announcement—the discovery that would supposedly change astrobiology forever, but turned out to be the sad product of media hype and poor research.
— Maki Naro (@sciencecomic) November 20, 2012
In the end, am I mad? Not really. Sadly, this kind of stuff does happen all the time, but it doesn’t make NASA a gigantic failure of an organization nor does it make NPR the editorial equivalent of the Daily Mail. Yet.
I’m joshing, of course. I can’t help but see this as the antics of two children who just can’t contain themselves with excitement for science.
*My disgruntled cynicism was immortalized in this article over at io9.