I sent a note to a NASA spokesman asking for comment on White House spokesman Robert Gibbs' denial of NASA chief Charles Bolden's recent statement about the space agency's mission to build ties with Islamic nations.

Specifically, Gibbs denied that President Obama ordered Bolden, in Bolden's words, to "reach out to the Muslim world" to help Islamic nations "feel good" about their scientific accomplishments.

"That was not [Bolden's] task, and that's not the task of NASA," Gibbs said Monday.

Was Gibbs correct? I asked NASA.  

"Questions about the accuracy, purpose, etc., of anything Mr. Gibbs ever says should, of course, be directed to the White House," responded NASA spokesman Doc Mirelson.

Well, then, I asked, is Administrator Bolden's description of his assignment from the president -- is that accurate?

I received this response:

NASA is focused on its core mission of exploration, from pushing the boundaries of known space to breakthrough innovations in science and technology here at home.  Without question, that work includes collaboration with other nations who share our goals.  

While space exploration may have once been a global competition, it is now a global collaboration.  It is in this vein that Administrator Bolden has engaged with his colleagues around the world, to bring the world’s best minds and ideas together to expand our common knowledge and capabilities.

Later, I asked Mirelson about the Muslim outreach assignment Bolden says he was given by the president. Was that in a face-to-face meeting? A phone conversation? In writing? Some other method?

"Good question for the White House to address," was Mirelson's reply.