It’s been a big week for Mars—and for NASA, which hopes to get there. First came the agency’s announcement about detecting flowing water on the planet, news that made headlines around the world. Closing out the week, NASA will make its way to movie theaters, with the premiere of the Matt Damon-Ridley Scott movie, The Martian.
Both events mean very good things for NASA’s planned foray to the Red Planet. It’s one of the agency’s longest-term projects, with no plans for astronauts on Mars until at least 2035—and maybe even decades later. That time frame is a challenge: How do you sustain public excitement, much less congressional funding, over a quarter century or more?