By XIAO LYU
NASA scientists held a news conference on Monday said they found the flowing water on the surface of Mars, making a significant breakthrough in searching for new life in the universe. However, with the vast news media attention, the news conference has been considered as a public relations blitz for the movie “The Martian” that opens in theaters nationally today and a chance to generate more money.
Three days prior to the news conference, NASA released a notice for the news conference on its official website, inviting the media and the public to participate. It was conventional when NASA was going to release a major scientific discovery and it would effectively become a spotlight.
During this time, the information was widely disseminated via the Internet and large-scale professional media coverage. The brief news conference notice of Mars grew into a spontaneous communication of science, all kinds of knowledge about Mars gathered around the Internet and the news media, arousing wide public concern.
NASA always attached great importance to the popularization of its work. NASA publicists build science website for each project, set up scientific periodical team, invited the public to participate in activities. It was interpreted as NASA was trying to allocate more money to Mars. President Obama said in 2010 that he would increase NASA spending by $6 billion over five years and finish designing a heavy-lift launch vehicle by 2015. But NASA’s current $18 billion annual budget is dispersed widely across scientific priorities, with the program receiving less than $500 million.
Another thing that was able to sustain public excitement was “Mars Mystery Solved” coordinated with the film “The Martian,” and the film is now in theaters. Although NASA has said it was a coincidence, it also was a stroke of immense fortune, given the vast media attention the discovery garnered just days within the opening of a film and the huge audience for the movie. People will be more aware of the agency’s plan to actually put people on Mars.