What We're Doing About NASA's Planetary Science Budget Cut
On April 10th, the President's 2014 Budget was released and it contained bad news (i.e. $200 million cut) for NASA's Planetary Science division. Congress has just weeks ago restored a similar cut from the previous year; it was a tough budget to read.
That was almost a week ago. What are we doing about it?
An Easy Way to Write Congress We've set up a new section on our website so you can easily write Congress and share your support for planetary science. We've set a goal of 25,000 letters to representatives around the country. A follow-up email makes it easy for you to call your representative and reinforce your message.
We've Reached Out to Our Members All Planetary Society members have been alerted to this, and we've asked them to reach out to Congress (or to President Barack Obama if you live outside the United States). Some will receive physical petitions via snail-mail, which will take a little longer to send out.
Coordination with Other Scientific Organizations We're in close contact with professional organizations like the AAS's Division for Planetary Science and the American Geophysical Union to make sure that our goals and messages reinforce each other.
Preparing Testimony to Congress The Planetary Society is busy preparing testimony to submit to Congress in time for the congressional hearings on the NASA budget next week.
Lobbying Congress The Planetary Society will be in Washington, D.C. in May to meet with legislators to talk about Planetary Science funding, as well as hold a special event on Capitol Hill to share the importance of this effective, affordable division within NASA.
Spreading the Word We've asked our members and supporters to spread the word via Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. We also held an immediate webcast about the budget, and are working on op-eds to submit to papers around the country and partnering with other new-media outlets.
The Goal We're pushing for $1.5 billion for NASA's Planetary Science division, the amount it had in 2012. It's a reasonable sum and, according to analyses by the scientific community, enables a robust program that includes a mission to Europa.
What Happens Next The next major events are the congressional committee hearings on NASA's budget in both the House and the Senate in the next few weeks. We will see the first response to the President's proposals for NASA there.