NASA's Planetary Science Future Rides on Huge Mars Rover's Success
by Mike Wall, SPACE.com Senior Writer
Date: 20 March 2012 Time: 10:00 AM ET
In the Obama Administration's budget request for next year, which was unveiled last month, NASA planetary science suffered a 21 percent cut, compelling the agency to scale back its robotic exploration efforts and drop out of two future European-led Mars missions entirely.
But top NASA officials are holding out hope that some funding may be restored in the future if the 1-ton Curiosity rover, which is due to arrive at the Red Planet this August, lands safely and performs as advertised.
"What a tremendous opportunity it is for us," Jim Green, head of NASA's planetary science division, said Monday (March 19) at the 43rd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) in The Woodlands, Texas. "I believe [Curiosity] will open up that new era of discovery that will compel this nation to invest more in planetary science." [Photos: Curiosity Launches Toward Mars]
Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
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