Mars Shaping Up as NASA Budget BattlegroundMars is the Roman god of war, an apt connection as budget battles heat up with the release of NASA's FY2013 request. Lines are being drawn in the space science community generally and among planetary scientists specifically as everyone fights for scarer resources. Future plans for Mars probes are at the center of the debate. All eyes are on Congress to see if it will save the planetary exploration budget and, if it does, what will be sacrificed in this zero-sum budget environment.
NASA's total budget would decline by only a small amount if Congress appropriates the President's request, but a $300 million cut to NASA's $1.5 billion planetary science budget is sparking controversy. The complaints come both from those who believe that budget suffered because of overruns on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and those who feel that NASA is trying to salvage some sort of robotic Mars exploration program at the expense of exploring other places in the solar system.
Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
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