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Casey DreierOctober 14, 2012

Write the President to Save Planetary Exploration (FAQ)

Our final advocacy push of 2012

Can you take a minute and write to President Obama for our final advocacy push of 2012?

This effort represents the final piece of our Save Our Science strategy this year. We've had you write to Congress, staff members at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and now we finish with the President.

Why the President? Simple:

Please share this with your friends and on your social networks! Let's make this one count.

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I'm going to switch into FAQ mode now. Please ask additional questions in the comment section.

What's this all about again?

In the proposed 2013 budget, NASA's planetary exploration division was given a $309 million cut (about 21%). This kind of cut prevents NASA from pursuing the most important missions to Mars and Europa (not to mention anywhere else). Missions like Curiosity would be a thing of the past.

The Planetary Society has been fighting against these proposed cuts all year. Congress was set to restore some of this money, but they recessed for the elections without passing a budget. We've been talking to key decision-makers in D.C. all year, and our members and supporters have been crucial in sharing their passion for planetary exploration with those who count.

Isn't the President busy, is he he even going to pay attention?

Letters to the President do get read, tallied, and reported on, and I believe a few get selected for the President to read every day. We've also called the communications office at the White House and they've assured us that the letters will be seen by the right people.

Why write the President now?

Right now, the OMB is drafting the 2014 budget. A clear signal of support for NASA's Planetary Exploration program from the President or other members of his administration can influence funding in this crucial stage.

Also, in previous posts about the new future of NASA's Mars program, we have launch opportunities in 2018 and 2020 and a proposed mission plan to return samples from Mars to the Earth. The first step in this plan would be to land a rover in 2018 that would collect viable samples to be returned in a later mission. NASA needs to know now if it's going to have the money to pursue these missions so it can hit that launch window.

Doesn't Congress allocate money? Why not write Congress?

We had a big effort write Congress earlier in the year. Bill Nye even went to Washington and hand-delivered thousands of letters to various representatives. Both the Senate and the House budgets restored some of the funding for planetary exploration, but they never finished the job. No 2013 budget was passed, and there's currently a "continuing resolution" that funds the government until March of 2013. Writing Congress now would do nothing to change this. Next year we'll mostly likely ask you to write them again, when the time is right.

To answer the other question, yes, Congress does allocate money to an agency but only on a yearly basis. The Office of Management and Budget helps set the long-term priorities within a federal agency and via a 5-year funding projection. It's this 5-year budget that is crucial for us to influence right now so NASA can start working on the next missions as soon as possible.

When will we know if our messages worked?

Unfortunately, the budget preparation process is not public. The soonest we'll know is the unveiling of the 2014 budget in February of next year.

I don't support the President or his policies. Why should I write?

You should still write the President on behalf of NASA's planetary science program. Even if you don't support all (or any) of the President's policies, you're still his constituent (if you're a U.S. citizen) and he and his staffers will listen. Your opinions on this matter still count (just be polite, please).

I'm not a United States citizen, can I still write?

Yes! Non-citizens are encouraged to share their support. Just add your country and select "None" under the "State" drop-down menu.

Ok, I'm ready to write the President and help save Planetary Exploration. Where do I go?

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Casey Dreier

Chief Advocate & Senior Space Policy Adviser for The Planetary Society
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