In a stunning revelation that has set Mars exploration back by at least a decade, NASA has revealed that the Mars rovers are not real robots, but simply men in robot suits.
The announcement was made during a press conference held at NASA Headquarters at 3 PM EST today, and carried live on the internet.
"After the enormous success and unexpected popularity of the Mars Pathfinder mission, hubris overcame us," a somber Charles Bolden, Administrator of NASA, announced. "We knew that we did not have the technological capability to send even more sophisticated robots to Mars, despite the public's demand that we do so. Thus, we reached for an easy option: dressing human beings in robot costumes and sending them to the Martian surface."
The deception began three years before the 2003 launch of the Spirit rover, when NASA put "little person" Marcus Sanford through a rigorous astronaut training program. He was launched into space and reached the Martian surface in January 2004. For almost six years after the landing, the public was duped into believing that Spirit was a robot controlled by NASA engineers on the ground, when in fact the rover was merely controlled from the inside by Mr. Sanford. (In late 2009, when Mr. Sanford's food supplies ran out, NASA announced that Spirit had become "stuck.")
Several so-called rovers still operate in the Martian climate, but all, NASA concedes, are merely people in costume, pantomiming scientific experiments while awaiting their inevitable deaths.
The stunning revelation has led to a review of many other so-called "robotic" NASA operations, including the Huygen's probe, which landed on Saturn's largest moon, Titan, in January 2005. Huygens is popularly believed to have been piloted by Marsha Walters, a "little person" who disappeared from her Nashville, TN residence in October 1997, about the same time the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft was launched.