The NASA Mars rover Curiosity completed a successful landing on August 6, and ever since people around the world have been spellbound by images of the Martian landscape that it has sent back to earth. Enjoy it while you can. 

NASA accomplished something that no other entity has in the course of human history, but widespread budget cuts are forcing the U.S. agency to scale back its current programs and cancel future space missions. Earlier this year, just months after Curiosity was launched, the Obama administration requested a 20 percent budget cut to NASA’s funding.

Collaborative 2016 and 2018 Mars missions with the European Space Agency have already been cancelled. Though on the brink of countless scientific breakthroughs, NASA will have to fight to find out if life did, does, or could ever exist on Mars. Yet Curiosity may hold more than the key to life in outer space. It may just save NASA’s future and that of planetary exploration as we know it.

The images and information that NASA scientists have already collected from the Mars rover are important in their own sake. Groundbreaking discoveries about life in space are being made everyday. That is reason enough for media outlets to continually spread the word about Curiosity. However, the geniuses over at NASA might be smarter than we think.

Did you know that Curiosity has over 300,000 Facebook fans? And more than one million followers on Twitter? Not to mention, it enjoys consistent front-page coverage on online publications such as the Huffington Post, CNN, and NBC News. Though some may claim that this deluge of information can be attributed to nothing more than a curiosity about Curiosity, the marketing folks at NASA could be on to something.

It’s likely that the only hope they now have to save their agency is to garner enough public support for its continued funding. If Americans can spend more than 400 million to see The Hunger Games, certainly we can spare a few extra dollars to see if life exists elsewhere in the universe, right? That may be exactly what NASA is banking on as well.

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