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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tells about his desire enable the United States to resend its astronauts back to space under its own power to Bloomberg's Rachel Crane before testifying to the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee on the national security of space launch programs. Credit: Bloomberg News

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Commentary | MSL: Public Spectacle or Learning Opportunity?

The landing of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity rover is indisputably a public relations coup for the agency. The event was a tightly organized, highly successful and greatly entertaining public spectacle. NASA is keeping close track of media reports, Web hits and other measures of public interest.

Such statistics are not real measures, however. They are only indicators. It remains to be seen whether the interested public will remain engaged in the MSL mission as tantalizing yet ambiguous science results start to roll in.

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