November 26, 2012
Given the current flat state of NASA funding, and likely to continue, I think the most productive use of funds available is a mission to return a sample of the plume from Enceladus, which has already been shown to contain water and organic compounds. We already have the technology to do this as shown by the sample return from a comet's plume (and no need to develop a drill to go beneath the surface.) It would be great if this could be a joint mission to land a probe on a lake of Titan to investigate the possibility of "life as we don't know it". This technology also has already been proven. Given that we have the technology and the scientific return would be so great, lets do it now, and then move on to the other great ideas presented here as money allows.
An asteroid or comet headed for Earth is the only large-scale natural disaster we can prevent. Working together to fund our Shoemaker NEO Grants for astronomers, we can help save the world.