The U.S National Aeronautics and Space Administration might put an end to the Cassini and Mars Curiosity missions due to the budget cut.
Cassini is an unmanned spacecraft sent to study planet Saturn and its natural satellites which has a yearly allocation of $60 million while Curiosity is also a rover sent to study Mars to see if it once supported life which has a yearly allocation of $50 million. Science Recorder reported that the funding for these space missions will be reduced by 50 percent in 2014 and then half again in 2015. That means by 2015, the missions will have a $15 million and $12 million allocation respectively. Continuing the missions will be impossible with such amounts.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden shocked the entire scientific community when he announced Friday that the launch of flagship missions will be put on hold. Flagship missions are missions whose budget is around $1 billion or more. A few days later, he gave an update in a press release that “NASA remains committed to planning, launching, and operating flagship missions. That’s a nice sentiment but it may take more than commitment to get Congress to cough up the necessary dough.”
The Obama administration with his Congress started decreasing NASA’s funds as early as 2010. The space agency is now receiving funds which are 2 million less than what they were given in 2009. In July, the Congress approved a fiscal year 2014 budget for NASA worth $16.6 billion and asked the space agency to set new goals which include cutting allocations on planetary science programs and putting more on Earth programs.
The news for budget cuts is not well-received by people working in the space agency. This year saw a lot of milestones in space exploration, including Curiosity’s landing on Mars and Cassini’s probe on Saturn. Last month, scientists gathered at the American Geophysical Union at San Francisco to discuss the latest discoveries and the trends of space exploration.
To give up either Curiosity or Cassini will be a very bad news for the explorers, as both of them are turning up data which scientists have never seen before. Cassini has been capturing video images of Saturn’s hexagonal clouds while Curiosity found evidences that Mars might once have been able to support life, at a microbial level.