NASA today is eligible for sequestration, preferably 100% sequestration. NASA does nothing worth financing by the private sector. It never has. But now there are threats of sequestration. NASA is running scared.
So, what’s a bureaucracy to do? Recycle that old favorite, life on Mars.
To keep the search going, the media run stories once a month on “we’ve almost found it.” The basic story never changes; only the names of obscure scientists change. Because nothing is ever proven, NASA has to keep adding new names of “almost, but not quite yet” experts. I mean, it would look silly if the same old scientists kept saying “almost, but not yet.”