Trump travels to Europa. Host



(Photo:Europa Clipper )

Twitter: @batchelorshow

Trump travels to Europa. Host

To Europa — and beyond?

In contrast, the White House proposed a cut of just under 1% for NASA. But the Trump plan appears poised to shift the agency’s research priorities, calling for NASA to focus on “deep-space exploration rather than Earth-centric research”.

Within the agency's science directorate — which encompasses astrophysics, Earth science, heliophysics and planetary sciences — the planetary division is expected to gain the most. Its budget would grow from $1.6 billion to $1.9 billion. And the White House proposal would accelerate NASA’s plans to explore Jupiter’s moon Europa.

For years, lawmakers led by Representative John Culberson (Republican, Texas) inserted money into NASA’s budget for a Europa mission — overriding the judgment of the space agency during the administration of president Barack Obama. NASA is now developing a spacecraft called the Europa Clipper to launch in the 2020s. Its goal is to fly by Europa multiple times, mapping its surface and looking for any signs that life might exist in an ocean beneath the moon’s icy shell.

The White House plan would also explicitly cancel the Obama-era plans to drag an asteroid into lunar orbit for astronauts to study up-close.

And it would cut spending on Earth-science research from $1.9 billion this year to $1.8 billion, eliminating funding for four missions — including the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3, which is intended to continue NASA’s efforts to monitor carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere from space. Also on the chopping block are the Earth-observing instruments aboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR. The primary purpose of the satellite, which launched in 2015, is to track space weather — but it was first proposed as an Earth-monitoring mission in the late 1990s by former vice-president Al Gore.

Mulvaney, the White House budget director, was blunt when asked about the cuts to climate research in Trump’s plan. “We’re not spending money on that any more,” he said. “We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that.”

But planetary science’s gain does not necessarily come at the expense of other NASA science divisions, argues Casey Dreier, director of space policy for the Planetary Society, an advocacy group in Pasadena, California. “On a certain level you have limited resources and you have to make priorities,” he says. “Some divisions growing while others shrink is common among different administrations.”

Dreier is not a fan of trimming NASA’s overall budget, however. “NASA is given tasks by the nation,” he says. “We need to give NASA the resources that will allow them to be successful.” Last month, Trump told Congress that American footprints on distant worlds are not too big a dream — but those footprints cannot be made without funds, Dreier notes.

Mar 21, 04:20 AM
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