Archives

Budgets and Policy: May 2006


Presentations and papers from the recent NASA Principal Investigator Lessons Learned workshop are now available on the Science Mission Directorate website: http://science.hq.nasa.gov/research/041106.html

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

Astrobiology

- 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.

NASA Budget: Crisis Deepens as Scientists Fail to Rejigger Space Research, Science

"... and NASA Administrator Michael Griffin in accepts a portion of the blame. "I made a mistake," Griffin told NASA's new science advisory panel. "I made commitments in advance that I wasn't able to keep," referring to his 2005 promise not to shift money from science to human space flight. NASA's current budget request would trim more than $3 billion from space science through 2011."

Outspoken: Mike Griffin on the NASA budget, Nature

"I did think astrobiology was less important than traditional space science. It had less intrinsic subject matter to it, and was less advanced. If the community rises up and says it should be funded, we'll rethink it."

Report of the NASA Advisory Council Planetary Science Subcommittee

"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."

Outspoken: Mike Griffin on the NASA budget," Nature

Deep cuts to NASA astrobiology - Griffin: "I did think astrobiology was less important than traditional space science. It had less intrinsic subject matter to it, and was less advanced. If the community rises up and says it should be funded, we'll rethink it."

NASA Lacks Resources Needed to Sustain Vigorous Science Program, National Academy of Sciences

Report: "An assessment of Balance in NASA's Science Programs" [excerpt 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.