NASA hurls insults at Curiosity, the world’s favorite rover

The Curiosity Mars Rover is one of the most complex machines ever built, a fully equipped analytical laboratory rolling around on the surface of another planet. "Our Curiosity" celebrates the mission's exploratory spirit and scientific prowess with narration from Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Felicia Day, and an original score from Austin Wintory. (Video courtesy of Caltech/Jeffrey Marlow/Austin Wintory)

On Wednesday, NASA released reports reviewing the seven major planetary exploration missions. All seven were given renewed funding (yay!), but although it's arguably the most popular among the general public (for proof, just look to the star-studded video above), the Mars Curiosity mission got a stern talking to.

"The panel essentially said, 'Drive less and do more science,'" Bill Knopf, the lead program executive for planetary mission operations at NASA headquarters, told Science Magazine. The review panel expressed disappointment in the plan for the rover's mission, which was recently extended indefinitely. "The panel viewed this as a poor science return for such a large investment in a flagship mission," the full report states. The rover team only has plans to drill and analyze eight more samples, and has now been asked to come up with a more ambitious plan. 

The review panel went on to say that current proposals for the rover lack "specific scientific questions to be answered, testable hypotheses, and proposed measurements and assessment of uncertainties and limitations." Somebody get the rover team some ice for that burn.

Willfully ignorant of the insults to its team, the rover itself kept on driving:

Meanwhile, its parody account had choice words:

The review board had a more positive outlook on the Opportunity rover. Opportunity has carried on long past its intended expiration dates, and continues to evaluate the surface of mars for environmental and geological conditions that might have supported life. And the shining star of the review is Cassini, which takes photos of Saturn and got the only "Excellent" rating in the bunch. The panel approved a proposed three-year mission for Cassini, which will probably take it to the end of its life.

Rachel Feltman runs The Post's Speaking of Science blog.

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Rachel Feltman · September 4, 2014