I must side with Dave Bax somewhat. 2.6 Billion to study rocks on a planet that has little to offer mankind? The US infrastructure is a crumbling pile of junk. America's children are dying in foreign lands. The world economy is unstable. We owe trillions to other countries. 2.6 billion??
Global climate changes are creating chaos with food production, People are dying from starvation, plagues and disease in the 21st century. Am I the only one who thinks this is just wrong? Are they going to eat rocks from Mars? Are there "miracle cures" being found right now, as I type ,from this exploration?
Oh, and lets not forget that a lot of us have not found the pot of gold at the end of Obama's rainbow. I need a job to provide for myself and my family. How is this helping manufacturing or small businesses to prosper and create more jobs? Even if there were employment opportunities on Mars,I couldn't afford the commute.
Scientifically, a great accomplishment. Socially, I think it is a kick in the crotch to those still suffering right here on planet Earth.
IMHO, it's just a "feel good", " look what we can do and you can't" distraction and a poorly timed , over funded waste.
Forget the Red Planet, if things don't change soon, Earth will be the Dead Planet. Perhaps someday some much wiser civilization will send a rover here to see where we went wrong. They may find plenty of dead earth and rocks, and absolutely no sign of any form of intelligent life, past or present.
Impressed, yes. Depressed, even more so.