President Donald Trump sent a confusingly-phrased tweet that initially gave the impression he believed the moon was part of Mars.

“For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon – We did that 50 years ago. They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!” he wrote.

NASA officials have said bolstering their presence on the moon will be an essential step towards conducting further research on Mars, as CNN’s Haley Byrd noted on Twitter.

“Exploration of the Moon and Mars is intertwined,” NASA writes on a section of their website titled “Moon to Mars.”

“The Moon provides an opportunity to test new tools, instruments and equipment that could be used on Mars, including human habitats, life support systems, and technologies and practices that could help us build self-sustaining outposts away from Earth,” they add.

Media Matters’ senior fellow Matt Gertz, who closely tracks Fox News, pointed out that Trump’s tweet on NASA came shortly after a segment on Fox Business — one of Trump’s most frequently-watched news channels — in which NASA’s chief financial officer Jeff DeWitt discussed NASA’s initiatives on the moon and their planned moon expedition in 2024 with host Neil Cavuto.

Read more: NASA says it needs a $1.6 billion ‘down payment’ from Congress to send astronauts back to the moon within 5 years

“When we went to the moon 50 years ago, it was what we call ‘flags and footprints.’ We went, walked around, collected some samples, and left. What we’re doing now is establishing a sustainable presence on the lunar surface,” DeWitt explained.

“We need to drive that innovation and complete those technologies to allow us to have a sustained presence on Mars because when you go to Mars, you’re stuck there for 22 months. We have to prove on the moon we can have a sustainable presence there first to make sure its safe venture to do,” he added, projecting NASA missions would be going to Mars in the 2030s.

July 20, 2019 will mark the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 mission, in which American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people from Earth to walk on the moon.

In March of 2017, Trump increased NASA’s budget up to $19.5 billion and requested another $1.6 billion earlier this year to help them carry out their 2024 moon mission, and future research and exploration on Mars.

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Credits: Business Insider

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