"The cuts to the astrobiology Program, apparently made in the absence of advice from the scientific community, are particularly damaging. First, even if a 50% cut to an R&A program were warranted on scientific grounds, because many awards are for multiple years, the implementation of such a reduction over 1 or even 2 years means that many of the research projects that will be terminated, sharply reduced, or simply not started will include some of those most highly rated by the peer review process. Moreover, the central scientific themes of astrobiology underpin strategic plans for the exploration of Mars and the outer solar system, inform plans for the renewed exploration of the Moon, and constitute the basis for elements of the plans of the Astrophysics Division to characterize the habitability of planets around other stars. Targeting the astrobiology Program for anomalously large cuts is sufficiently inconsistent with the rationale enunciated for a broad sweep of SMD programs that budgetary restoration for that program should receive immediate attention."
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