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Casey DreierOctober 19, 2015

President Obama Highlights Planetary Science Triumphs

But 2016 budget cuts the program by nearly $80 million

On Monday night, President Obama addressed a crowd of science enthusiasts gathered on the White House lawn for their Astronomy Night event. The President talked about the importance of science and the excitement of the next great discovery, which is a deeply important topic and worth continued investment by the nation. He also called out several recent achievements by NASA that caught my ear:

"In recent years, we’ve discovered the first Earth-sized planet orbiting a star in a distant galaxy." —@POTUS #AstronomyNight

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) October 19, 2015

"Earlier this year, we mapped Pluto in high-resolution." —@POTUS: #AstronomyNight

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) October 19, 2015

"Last month, @NASA found water flowing on Mars." —@POTUS: #AstronomyNight

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) October 19, 2015

These three discoveries—using data from NASA's Kepler, New Horizons, and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, respectively—were all paid for by NASA's Planetary Science Division (Kepler is now operated by the Astrophysics Division).

The President's 2016 budget proposed to cut NASA's Planetary Science Division by $78 million from last year. This isn't an aberration. Since 2012, the White House has repeated attempted to slash Planetary Science funding at NASA—delaying or cancelling the very types of missions the President highlighted today. Hopefully this means 2017 will see something better.

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Casey Dreier

Director of Space Policy for The Planetary Society
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