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Stories, updates, insights, and original analysis from The Planetary Society.

Our Submissions to the Planetary Science Decadal Survey

Advocating for space at every step in the process, The Planetary Society submitted two papers to the forthcoming planetary science decadal survey—one on the search for life and one on the importance of planetary defense.

National Academies: NASA needs a plan for Mars

Though progress is being made on Mars Sample Return, a new report from the National Academies recommends NASA have a long-term plan for robotic Mars exploration, and work to ensure communications infrastructure is maintained at the Red Planet. These recommendations largely align with those made by The Planetary Society in a report released in 2017.

Challenges to Enabling a Richer Planetary Exploration Program

This past week brought to the fore two challenges for NASA’s managers as they try to enable the richest possible mix of coming planetary missions. At stake are whether the agency will be able to select two Discovery missions from the current competition, and whether there will be the possibility of a mission selected for Enceladus and/or Titan in the next decade.

Making the Rounds on Capitol Hill

There's an old saying about Washington, D.C.: it’s a small town, based on relationships. We are establishing very good relationships with members of the U.S. Congress and the Administration. Three of us made the rounds recently, going from one Congressional Member’s office to another to support planetary exploration and a mission to Europa. Our team included Casey Dreier, our Director of Advocacy; Bill Adkins, our lobbyist in Washington; and me.

A Reluctant Dance Towards Europa

For the last two years, NASA has been the shy partner refusing to get on the dance floor, and Congress has been the aggressive partner insisting on a dance now. The dance is the continuing attempt by Congress to have NASA commit to a mission to explore Europa, and NASA’s attempts to delay a mission well into the 2020s.

Mars 2020 Is No Redo

The next major mission to Mars will push the technological envelope in way that preserves its budget and fulfills the scientific goals set by the planetary community for this decade.

NASA’s New Planetary Mission Woes

NASA’s planetary science program depends on regular missions to solar system bodies to gather data. A combination of budget cuts and previous commitments to develop missions currently in the pipeline means that development of follow on missions may slow to a crawl. Van Kane looks at the current situation and NASA’s plans and then look at options the agency may consider if budgets remain tight into the next decade.

Notes from EPSC/DPS NASA Night

It's already the last day of the DPS/EPSC meeting in Nantes, France, and I've fallen seriously behind on writing up my notes. I thought I'd get some less pleasant notes out of the way before I returned to science.