The House of Representatives proposed $2.1 billion for NASA's planetary science budget, which would be an all-time high. Part of the increase would be used to start work on a new reconnaissance and communications orbiter.
The President signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, funding the U.S. government for the remainder of the fiscal year. NASA got a boost to $19.65 billion, and its Planetary Science Division saw a budget increase to $1.846 billion—its best budget in more than ten years.
Today, NASA announced progress on a spacecraft that would assess whether Jupiter's Moon Europa is habitable, and earlier this month, an agency-sponsored science team released a report on a separate lander mission that would directly search for signs of life.
New scientific findings add to the evidence that Europa is spouting its liquid ocean into space. NASA has a mission to Europa in the works, but it wouldn't launch for at least a decade. Congress can make it faster, but it all depends on whether they can pass a budget this year.
It’s clear that the President’s budget officers really don’t want to fund a mission to Europa. Other than that, the proposed Fiscal Year 2017 budget submitted by the President last week to Congress would be great for planetary exploration.