By Mary O’KEEFE
The Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee released its draft proposal significantly upping funding for planetary science:
“I’m very pleased that the subcommittee has made such a strong investment in planetary science – one of the Crown Jewels of NASA’s portfolio. With this funding increase, we will be able to keep Mars 2020 on track and begin an exciting new mission to Europa, two of the science community’s highest priorities. We should also be able to continue the operation of craft that have exceeded their estimated lives but continue to produce valuable science,” said Congressman Adam Schiff.
Each year Schiff argues for support from the Administration in favor of planetary science funding. Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages many planetary exploration projects including Mars Science Laboratory and the rover Opportunity. These projects generally go far beyond their intial projected mission. The funding will allow JPL to continue to manage their progress and continue to retrieve valuable data of their exploration.
The funding also allows the United States to continue to lead in the STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathmatics) field.
“Thanks to the brilliant scientists and engineers at NASA and JPL, we have the unique ability to design, fly and land sophisticated robots on our planetary neighbors – and if these projects are disrupted, we might lose this perishable and incredibly specialized talent pool. This appropriations bill will ensure that we will not surrender America’s leadership on planetary science, and I thank Chairman Wolf and Ranking Member Fattah for working with us to, once again, restore adequate funding to planetary science. I only wish it wasn’t necessary to do so year after year,” Schiff stated.