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How the Mars community shot itself in the foot

8 Mar 2012, 16:16 UTC
How the Mars community shot itself in the foot
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Ask for a lot and perhaps get a little. But ask for too much and you may end up with nothing.

Mars Sample Return: Off the table?
The recent release of the administration’s FY 2013 budget gave some scientists a bit of a shock. Planetary science (considered a “jewel in the crown” of the space agency) has been identified for cutting, over 20% during the next five years. A particularly painful cut comes to the agency’s robotic Mars exploration program. Planned missions in cooperation with the Europeans and future missions designed to lead up to the return of a surface sample from Mars were eliminated from the budget. In effect, the successful program of Mars missions created after the embarrassing failure of the Mars Polar Lander over a decade ago is being scrapped.
The administration digested the National Research Council (NRC) Decadal Survey in planetary science (released last spring) before writing their new budget. The study process for this report involves getting the relevant scientific communities to determine and lay out their priorities. The assumption is that the scientific community can best determine the most relevant goals and questions in planetary science and therefore design mission concepts to address them. ...

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