NASA plans to drop nearly $310 million from the budget for its Planetary Science division in 2013, a 20 percent cut that affects future missions to Mars, lunar science, and the study of the outer planets.
The cuts are part of a $17.7 billion budget request NASA unveiled Monday a mere 0.3 percent cut from the 17.8 billion Congress approved in November for 2012. But it represents a 5 percent cut from the $18.7 billion President Barack Obama penciled in for 2013 in the five-year budget he sent to Congress this time last year.
And it leaves NASA funded at its lowest level in four years, forcing the space agency to juggle priorities and “devastating planetary science,” said Bill Nye, CEO of space exploration group The Planetary Society.
“Science is the part of NASA that’s actually conducting interesting and scientifically important missions,” Nye said in a statement about the 2013 budgetary figures. “Spacecraft sent to Mars, Saturn, Mercury, the Moon, comets, and asteroids have been making incredible discoveries, with more to come from recent launches to Jupiter, the Moon, and Mars.”