NASA made what it touted as a discovery that could change the way we look at Mars, the nearest planet to Earth in our solar system. But at least one well-known radio personality, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh — isn't buying it. NASA on Monday said that researchers found evidence of actual, flowing streams of water on the surface of the Red Planet — a revelation that may indicate the presence of life there either now or in the distant past.
But according to Limbaugh, the revolutionary discovery may simply be a fraud, designed to promote a "leftist agenda" of some kind. Limbaugh later attempted to clarify his Monday remarks, revisiting the Mars issue on his Tuesday broadcast.
But he succeeded only in muddying the waters further, claiming among other assertions that "Obama's turned NASA over to Muslim outreach, in case you've forgotten."
NASA scientists announced Monday that the agency's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter had found a series of sloped "streaks" on the surface of Mars, and that those streaks contained extremely salty chemicals known as "percholates." The chemicals are so salty that they cause water to stay in liquid form and resist freezing at temperatures as low as 94 degrees below zero, Fahrenheit.
In the cold season on Mars, surface temperatures plunge even lower than that. But during Martian "summer," the temperature can rise to a balmy 10 below zero, causing the water on Mars to liquefy and flow down the slopes, leaving the visible streaks on the surface.
Rush Limbaugh said on his Monday broadcast that he believes the discovery will be presented as evidence of "climate change" on Mars, citing a "catastrophe" on the planet sometime hundreds of millions of years ago — a "catastrophe" that caused the planet once covered in oceans to simply dry up.
"Now, doesn't that fit amazingly well with the scaremongering they are engaging in about planet Earth? Was it Mars' version of Hurricane Katrina, do you think? Was there a President Bush on Mars at the time?" Limbaugh asked his listeners, going on to assure them that he was "not joking" about his claims.
"This is absurd. 'Catastrophic events when nobody lives on Mars? Until they're gonna tell us they did," Limbaugh speculated. '"Yep, and global climate change destroyed them!' Don't rule it out, folks. We're dealing here with desperate leftists who will do anything to advance their agenda here on Ezarth. I know, but don't laugh."Limbaugh continued the discussion on Tuesday, accusing media reports of his bizarre Monday rant of "getting it totally out of context." But his explanation seemed to make little sense, speculating that NASA had timed its announcement of water on Mars to coincide with the release of the Hollywood film The Martian, featuring movie star Matt Damon as an astronaut marooned on the Red Planet.
"I don't think so much NASA was — well, they might be timing the release of the news to support the movie. Actually, it's probably true," Limbaugh said Tuesday. "But more than that, NASA wants to go to Mars, and Obama's turned NASA over to Muslim outreach, in case you've forgotten. NASA wants the money to go to Mars. It makes total sense in the world that they would time, NASA, the release of, 'Look what we found! We found flowing water on Mars, oh, my God, there could be life, oh, my God, we gotta go, we gotta go, we gotta go.'"
Limbaugh also speculated that NASA would soon announce that it had discovered a "graveyard" of ancient Martians from an advanced civilization destroyed by climate change.
A compilation of Limbaugh attempting to explain his strange theories about a NASA Mars hoax, assembled by the media monitoring group Media Matters For America, is viewable above.
[Images: Win McNamee / Bill Pugliano / Getty Images / NASA]