The Planetary Society announced today the progress of the "Save Our Science (SOS)" Campaign to rescue NASA's space science program, currently under attack in the proposed NASA budget for fiscal year 2007.
The Society made the announcement at the International Space Development Conference in Los Angeles.
Thousands of concerned members of the public have already signed the Society's petition and written their Congressional representatives in a nationwide SOS on behalf of planetary exploration.
"Budget action is needed now," said Planetary Society Vice-President Bill Nye, "The longer you drive in the wrong direction, the longer it'll take you to get where you really want to go."
"The proposed NASA budget would not only severely cut back planetary science and exploration," added Louis Friedman, Executive Director of The Planetary Society, "but completely undermines the promised 'Vision for Space Exploration'- removing its science component and its Mars goal."
The proposal, submitted by the Bush Administration for NASA, would slash $3 billion from the planned exploration of the solar system as well as from space science research and analysis.
The SOS petition demonstrates to Congress and the Administration the strong public support that exists for planetary exploration, fueled by the success of such NASA science missions as the Hubble Space Telescope, the Mars Exploration Rovers, Deep Impact, Cassini-Huygens, and Stardust.
Just how bad is the new proposal? The following missions will be killed if the proposed budget passes:
*Europa mission - a prime candidate for finding life beyond Earth
*Terrestrial Planet Finder - a search for Earth-like worlds elsewhere in the galaxy
*Mars Sample Return mission and all precursor activities for human exploration of the Red Planet.
*Mars Telecommunications Orbiter - to relay lander data and begin an infrastructure for future Mars exploration
*The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) - an airborne infrared observatory
In addition, the budget cuts astrobiology, the study of and search for life beyond earth, by a full 50%. University research funding also would be cut 15% across the board, eliminating many bright young people from the field of space science.
"The future of scientific exploration of space is at risk," said Wesley T. Huntress, Planetary Society Chairman. "The budget decision Congress makes today will affect planetary exploration and research for decades to come."
The public can demonstrate their support for space science by signing the SOS petition.
About The Planetary Society
The Planetary Society has inspired millions of people to explore other worlds and seek other life. With the mission to empower the world's citizens to advance space science and exploration, its international membership makes the non-governmental Planetary Society the largest space interest group in the world. Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman founded The Planetary Society in 1980. Bill Nye, a longtime member of The Planetary Society's Board, serves as CEO.