President Donald Trump on Friday tweeted out a mysterious Mars comment that has social media users blasting off their best jokes. He suggested NASA should instead focus on "the much bigger things", including Mars, defense and science.
In it, he seems to state that the moon is part of Mars (TPM fact check: it is not).
Many latched onto the "Mars (of which the Moon is a part)" line from the tweet.
During his March speech at Marshall, Pence said that "after years of cost overruns and slipped deadlines, we're actually being told that the earliest we can get back to the moon is 2028".
"For all of the money we are spending, NASA should not be talking about going to the moon", Trump wrote, saying we already "did that 50 years ago". However, it is likely that Trump's "Mars (of which the Moon is a part)" comment referred to NASA's talking point that going to the moon again would help efforts to later reach Mars. On average Mars is 140m miles from the moon.
Irrespective of whether the moon is part of Mars (it isn't), Trump's announcement was doubly surprising given his previous enthusiasm for a moon trip.
President Trump shows off a new national space policy directive he signed December 11, 2018 at the White House, putting NASA's focus on returning astronauts to the moon as a precursor to eventual Mars flights.
It soon emerged that Trump's moon reversal may have been provoked by Fox News.
The 2024 landing will take place near the moon's south pole, where water ice appears to be common on the floors of permanently shadowed craters, and will involve at least one woman, NASA officials have said.
There are probably some frantic emails flying between NASA headquarters and the White House right now. In ancient times the moon was worshipped as a god, while more recently some children's stories have speculated that it is made of cheese.