Obama to NASA: “Let me know if you find Martians”

US President Barack Obama on Monday called and congratulated the NASA team that guided the unmanned rover Curiosity to Mars, and instructed them to let him know right away if they find life on Mars.

Obama joked, “If in fact, you do make contact with Martians, please let me know right away,” as he called the scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California from Air Force One. “I’ve got a lot of other things on my plate, but I suspect that that will go to the top of the list. Even if they’re just microbes, it will be pretty exciting.”

Mr. Obama said he was impressed the team had been able to get Curiosity to land on Mars, a nod to the fact the vehicle landed using a never-tested technique. The $2.5 billion mission has given a boost to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which has faced cuts and questions about whether it will be able to continue bold space missions that have defined its history.

Curiosity touched down on the Red Planet last week, after a high-risk landing, and will hunt for soil-based signatures of life on Earth’s nearest neighbor and send back data to prepare for a future human mission.
It will also haul a Mars Science Laboratory as far as halfway up Mount Sharp, a towering three-mile (five-kilometer) Martian mountain with sediment layers that may be up to a billion years old.

Obama said that thanks to the dedication of NASA scientists, Curiosity “stuck her landing and captured the attention and imagination of millions of people not just across our country, but people all around the world.
“You’ve made NASA proud. You guys are examples of American know-how and ingenuity, and it’s really an amazing accomplishment,” he said. Obama also offered a political vow to maintain critical investment in science and technology.

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News Source: http://blogs.wsj.com

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