President Trump on Friday launched a surprise attack on NASA while claiming the moon is a part of Mars.

“For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon – We did that 50 years ago,” the president tweeted.

He added: “They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!”

Trump’s declaration left many astronomers and space enthusiasts scratching their heads.

As the Guardian noted in their fact-check of the president’s claim: “the moon has not traditionally been regarded as part of Mars.”

The leading theory is that a collision between Earth and a planet-sized entity, many years ago, resulted in debris that eventually became the moon. On average Mars is 140m miles from the moon. Nasa did not immediately respond to a question from the Guardian asking if the moon is part of Mars.

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. His criticism of Nasa for “talking about going to the moon” came just three weeks after Trump championed the idea of a lunar visit.

In May, Trump proudly tweeted: “We are going back to the moon.”

In October, Vice President Mike Pence said: “Our determination is to see Americans back on the moon in the very near future”.

The Guardian adds:

It soon emerged that Trump’s moon reversal may have been provoked by Fox News.​ One hour before the president offered his take on the moon’s origin and his criticism of Nasa, Fox News guest Neil Cavuto had expressed scepticism over a moon trip.

Cavuto reportedly told the TV cable network that Nasa is “refocusing on the moon, the next sort of quest, if you will, but didn’t we do this moon thing quite a few decades ago?” The White House did not immediately respond to a Guardian question about whether Trump’s statement should be considered official guidance. 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.

MSNBC justice and security analyst Matthew Miller tweeted in response to Trump’s tweet, “What the hell?” before adding: “So this week Trump continued his feud with a dead man, picked a new one with Bette Midler, attacked a royal family member, said Ireland should build a wall on its border with N. Ireland, that he didn’t serve in Vietnam b/c it was far away, & the moon was part of Mars. Cool cool.”


Readers' Choice