Don’t worry, Mars Curiosity the rover is alive and well and on the verge of beginning the mission it was so ably designed to do! There’s every reason to expect Curiosity will perform brilliantly, and that’s good, because there’s nothing much slated for Mars after it. When Curiosity finally seizes up, likely frozen in place, starved for power and heat and mobility while examining an undisclosed ancient, dusty lakebed, and the mini sat network above stops talking to its creators, it is an end of sorts to our curiosity, until we do something about it:
HouChron— If you don’t feel like squinting, the budget for planetary science declines from $1.5 billion this year to $1.2 billion in FY 2013, and down to $1.1 billion in FY 2014 and 2015. The effects of these cuts on planetary science — if they make it through Congress, which they probably won’t — would be significant.In planetary science NASA has three classes of robotic exploration programs, Discovery (the cheapest), New Frontiers and Flagship (most expensive). All do great science, but the Flagship missions are by far the splashiest. Flagship missions include the Voyager probes, Cassini spacecraft and the Curiosity rover.
Under the President’s budget, instead of being flown every two years, Discovery class missions would only be flown every 60 months, and instead of being flown every 60 months, New Frontiers missions would be flown every 72 months.
There’s a bit of a partisan take to this article, the author points out planetary science fared better under George Bush than it has under Barack Obama, and that’s true, it did and it does. The idea that Bush inherited a budget surplus and the government programs conceived under it, or that his Presidency was never held back by concerns over deficit spending, is also a legit point. As is the rejoinder that Bush did not have a rabid gang of deficit obsessed politicians, and their lap-dog scientific know-nothings,barking at displays showing humans living with dinos and dog whistling over pics of the commie POTUS with a bone through his nose, all bankrolled by the two wealthiest evil brothers on earth, all screaming about debt and deficits and obstructing any spending possible.
If the author is trying to pitch a vague implication, that this modern-day Republican Party is somehow a better friend of science or taxpayer-funded agencies that pursue science, that’s a little too much to take seriously. But the broader point, that we as a nation literally do not value space exploration and that shortcoming is now scheduled to come home to roost starting now, is both disappointing and valid.