Mars Sample Returns: Do Australians trust NASA?

Sarah Joyce, Chantal Tomkins, Philip Weinstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


Mars Sample Return (MSR) represents an important scientific goal in space exploration. Any sample return mission will be extremely challenging from a scientific, economic and technical standpoint. But equally testing, will be communicating with a public that may have a very different perception of the mission. A MSR mission will generate international publicity and it is vital that NASA acknowledge the nature and extent of public concern about the mission risks and, perhaps equally importantly, the public’s confidence in NASA’s ability to prepare for and manage these risks. This study investigated the level of trust in NASA in an Australian population sample, and whether this trust was dependent on demographic variables. Participants completed an online survey that explored their attitudes towards NASA and a MSR mission. The results suggested that people believe NASA will complete the mission successfully but have doubts as to whether NASA will be honest when communicating with the public. The most significant finding to emerge from this study was that confidence in NASA was significantly (p <0.05) related to the respondent’s level of knowledge regarding the risks and benefits of MSR. These results have important implications for risk management and communication.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1096-1102
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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