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Casey DreierDecember 9, 2013

The Sorry State of Planetary Science Funding In One Chart

We've talked a lot at The Planetary Society about our strong desire to fund NASA's Planetary Science Division at $1.5 billion per year. This number doesn't come out of nowhere. It's the historical average for the program that has produced the current golden age we find ourselves living in today.

Over the summer our policy intern Lori Dajose and myself explored the recent history of planetary science funding at NASA. We went through ten years of public budgets, picked out the funding for planetary exploration, and corrected it for inflation and made it programmatically consistent. Michael Wong of Caltech helped us visualize the results you see below, which speak for themselves.

Amounts are in millions, and are plotted against the number of missions in development in the President's annual budget request.

NASA's Planetary Science Division Funding and Number of Missions 2004 - 2020

Lori Dajose/Michael Wong/Loren Roberts/Casey Dreier for the Planetary Society

NASA's Planetary Science Division Funding and Number of Missions 2004 - 2020
Funding for planetary exploration at NASA mapped against the number of missions in development, adjusted for inflation and for programmatic consistency. Current as of the FY2016 President's Budget Request.

A few things to note about this chart:

If you don't like the trend displayed above, do something about it. Write the President and your elected officials and tell them to fund planetary science at NASA.

Read more: FY2014 NASA Budget, Explaining Policy, history, Space Policy

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Casey Dreier

Chief Advocate & Senior Space Policy Adviser for The Planetary Society
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