"Opponents felt the $2 million piece was wasteful, saying any gathered samples will likely degrade over time. They also argued there was no guarantee a future spacecraft would fly to the Mars Science Lab's landing site to collect the basket. Former NASA space sciences chief Alan Stern, who backed the idea, was baffled by the decision. "The Mars program is slowly committing suicide in front of our very eyes," said Stern, who resigned earlier this year. "The only concrete step toward a sample return has been tossed after it has already been built. How does that save money?" Scientists opted to use the space formerly occupied by the storage box for a cleaning station for the spacecraft's instruments."
"A wide range of positive and negative reasons for retaining the cache were expressed, reflecting many different prisms of experience. The discussion was unfettered and two diverging lines of thought emerged. 1) Any cache on Mars will be a positive step towards sample return and the cache box should be retained unless it is demonstrated that the MSL objectives will be compromised; and 2) The value of this cache is likely to be low enough that it does not justify the possibility that MSL capabilities or operations will be compromised by its installation, and it should be removed."