August 3, 2012
CLASSIFIED: TOP SECRET
TO: All NASA employees
FROM: Administrator Bolden
RE: Monday Mars Landing Talking Points
As we all know, the Curiosity rover arrives on Mars this Sunday. Several past Mars missions have generated unfortunate media sideshows over careless employee comments. This will NOT happen with Curiosity. Accordingly, I need all staff members to review the following talking points over the weekend.
IF CURIOSITY LANDS AS PLANNED
Keep your celebrations low-key. In this economy, Americans don't want to be reminded that the very same "nerds" they wedgied and brutalized throughout high school are now technological wizards who can fly a machine larger than a Subaru Forester across several hundred million miles and then park it on a massive moving rock, all with less effort than most people take to drive their actual Subaru Foresters to their ferociously tedious jobs, so that they can continue funding lives utterly devoid of glory, interplanetary or otherwise.
Words to avoid: "booyah," "eat it," "I win."
IF WE LOSE CONTACT WITH CURIOSITY
Sow the seeds of doubt. "Did we lose contact?" you can say, smiling coyly and suggesting that Curiosity perhaps went someplace far more exciting than boring old Mars.
Words to avoid: "crash," "vaporized," "write-off," "Marsbortion."
IF CURIOSITY LANDS UPSIDE DOWN
Go on the offensive. Say something like, "You know, I don't see Russia, China, England, France, or any of the other 189 nations on Earth landing shit on shit." If appropriate, point out that Curiosity's chances of landing right side up were always 50/50, which are still better odds than certain people keeping all their teeth if they keep on talking.
IF CURIOSITY LANDS ON TOP OF EITHER THE SPIRIT OR OPPORTUNITY ROVERS
This contingency would be a textbook teachable moment. "Wow," you could say in a crowded public space. "It's like a parking lot up there! NASA must be doing something right!"
- Start a ribbon campaign (plaid?)
- Hold a community screening of WALL-E
- Drum up support for the 2018 Mars RepairBot Mission
IF CURIOSITY LANDS ON THAT CREEPY FACE MOUNTAIN THING
Downplay. You could mention that there are "faces" on all sorts of everyday objects: electrical sockets, car headlights, small animals. Be conversational, and quick to change the subject.
Words to avoid: "our overlords," "December 21, 2012," "Marspocalypse."
IF CURIOSITY LANDS, BUT SOMEHOW JUST A FEW MILES FROM CAPE CANAVERAL
R&D are working on several al Qaeda diversions for this scenario, so it shouldn't be an issue past one news cycle.
Words to avoid: "Not again!"
IF CURIOSITY LANDS ON THE SUN INSTEAD OF MARS
Politely but firmly state that this was a minor issue in our last patch for the flight navigation software, one that has already been addressed ad nauseum within the agency (in the kitchen at Gina and Tom Levlin's Christmas party last year).
Words to avoid: "sun," "rover," "NASA," "United States."
IF CURIOSITY LANDS ON TOP OF MARSALANGUUUUU, WHICH IS SORT OF THE MARTIAN EQUIVALENT OF THE FRANKFURT BOOK FAIR BUT WITH TRIPOD TENTACLE MACHINES INSTEAD OF BOOKS
We've been given word that this has been bumped back to October, so we should be good.
IF CURIOSITY LANDS AND WORKS CORRECTLY, I.E., FARTS AROUND ON A DESERT PLANET FOR A FEW YEARS AND STUDIES A FEW ROCK FORMATIONS BEFORE WEARING OUT ITS BATTERY, PROVIDING NO TANGIBLE BENEFITS TO HUMANITY
Words to avoid: "2.5 billion dollars.”