Recently in the Budgets and Policy Category

Space Science Update

Comments by NAS Space Studies Board Chair Lennard Fisk, NAS

"There is consternation these days between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and its external science community. In August, three senior science advisors were dismissed from the NASA Advisory Council (NAC). In the aftermath, the Administrator of NASA, Mike Griffin, through correspondence with the NAC and its science subcommittees and through a major speech at the Goddard Space Flight Center, clarified how NASA will manage its science program, and the role of the science community."

Astrobiology Update

Director's Corner - Message from NASA Astrobiology Institute Director Carl Pilcher, NAI

"The clearest expression that astrobiology doesn't "measure up" comes from the Administrator of NASA himself, Mike Griffin. Mike has testified before Congress that he does not see astrobiology as having the same importance as other components of the NASA science portfolio. He's also been quoted as saying that it has less intrinsic subject matter, is less advanced, and that its questions are more vague. Shortly before I left NASA Headquarters I had the opportunity to have an "elevator conversation" with Mike about some of his perceptions about astrobiology."

Saving Astrobiology

SETI Institute to Announce New Astrobiology Center - The Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe

"On Tuesday, October 17, the SETI Institute will unveil a new center to study life in the universe and a fund-raising strategy to counter NASA's proposed budget cuts for astrobiology research. From 10 to 11 a.m. at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, a distinguished panel of institute trustees and staff will announce the formation of the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe. The center's activities will focus on astrobiology and be dedicated to the memory of planetary scientist and astronomer Carl Sagan. The panel will explain a new emphasis on fundraising from private sources to offset a proposed 50 percent budget cut by NASA for astrobiology research."

Reversal of Science Cuts Possible

Email Memo from Senate Appropriations Committee Staff Regarding Mikulski - Hutchison Amendment on NASA FY 2007 Budget

"The amendment they will offer in Committee will provide $1 billion to the NASA Administrator to pay-back the costs of returning the Shuttle to flight and restore cuts to science, aeronautics and exploration programs that were cut in order to pay for the return to flight. The $1 billion will be declared an emergency under the terms of the budget act and budget resolution."

Legislative Action Memo From the American Society for Gravitational and Space Biology (ASGSB)

"Remember: Doing nothing will get us nothing."

SETI Institute to Astrobiology Community Regarding NASA Budget Process

"Once again we write you from the SETI Institute to alert you to an important moment in the NASA budget approval process. Your help is needed."

NRC Report: An Assessment of Balance in NASA's Science Programs

Astrobiology: NASA's astrobiology program is built around three overarching scientific questions:

1. How does life begin and evolve?
2. Does life exist elsewhere in the universe?
3. What is life's future on Earth and beyond?

The program consists of four independent R&A elementsthe exobiology and evolutionary biology program, the Astrobiology Science and Technology Instrument Development program, the Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets program, and the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI). Together, these were funded in FY 2006 at a combined level of $65 million, already down 13 percent from the FY 2005 program. The FY 2007 budget would cut the program again, to half its current level. This is projected to be a permanent reduction in the size of the program.

Presentations and papers from the recent NASA Principal Investigator Lessons Learned workshop are now available on the Science Mission Directorate website:

Astrobiology 2.0

Saving Astrobiology at NASA

"Astrobiology emerged at a time when NASA was in a state of flux and ARC and other field centers were faced with possible closure or drastic cutbacks. The community that formed around this nascent program at ARC turned adversity and uncertainty into opportunity and built a rich program out of that chaos. Now tough times are here again. Take a hard look at astrobiology and don't be afraid to respond to this challenge by looking at ways to make it more efficient as well as more relevant to the President's stated vision."

Campaign Update: The Planetary Society Takes the Fight to Washington

"In contrast to Kennedy's vision, the fiscal year 2007 budget proposed for NASA contains cuts that threaten to end the era of exploration that brought us the Hubble Space Telescope, Mars Exploration Rovers, Cassini-Huygens at Saturn, Deep Impact and Stardust. The Administration proposes to drastically cut future space science, especially astrobiology research; to stop work on new missions to Europa and to find terrestrial planets; and to not include Mars planning in the Vision for Space Exploration.The presentation is part of the Society's SOS (Save Our Science) campaign, and will be hosted in conjunction with the House Science Committee."

"Along with the presentation the Society is also launching an ad campaign, calling on Congress to preserve funding for space science. Prominent advertisements, featuring a trash can and the slogan "Don't Trash Space Science!" will appear on May 25 in the Washington Post and Congress's own Roll Call."

NRC On Value of Astrobiology

An Assessment of Balance in NASA's Science Programs, National Research Council

"[Page 20]: "The decadal surveys for astrophysics and for solar system exploration both embraced astrobiology as a key component of their programs, with the questions encompassed by astrobiology serving as overarching themes for the programs as a whole. The missions put forward in the solar system exploration survey are all key missions in astrobiology, whether they are labeled as such or not. And issues and missions related to astrobiology represent one of the key areas of interest identified in the astronomy and astrophysics communities.

NAC Science Committee Presentation

NASA Advisory Council Science Committee Presentation 18 May 2006


- These scientific investigations support NASA's strategic goals. In addition, this program is particularly attractive to the general public.
- Science Committee recommendation: NASA's Astrobiology Program shuld have been treated in the same way as any other R&A program, and should be in future planning.