Like brunch plans dashed when it turns out someone in the party has lost his wallet, the ESA's and NASA's best laid plans to take a trip to Mars together in 2018 could be ruined. A joint Mars exploration mission planned by both space agencies could be put on hold or even scrapped altogether because America can't afford to pay its share of the tab.
This news comes via a new report from the U.S. National Research Council (officially titled "Vision and Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013-2022," though many are referring to it as the "planetary decadal survey") that says NASA is realistically about $1 billion short. The decadal survey is purely advisory at this point, but it does have weight; conducted by a group of independent scientists, it is viewed as a barometer of the larger space and planetary science community's feelings and therefore is taken seriously by NASA policymakers.
The mission, as envisioned, calls for two rovers--one from each agency--to share a ride on the same rocket to Mars (because splitting gas money saves cash) where each will conduct missions on the surface. The European rover ExoMars would drill into the surface in search of life while its American counterpart Max-C would collect and package rocks for later retrieval and eventual return to Earth.
But the decadal report, relying on information from knowledgeable, independent parties, says Max-C would cost at least $3.5 billion to build and launch, a full $1 billion more than NASA can spare for the mission. The report doesn't suggest NASA kill the mission but rather that it scale back to stay within budget. If that can't be done, however, the report suggests deferring the mission until later or canceling it outright.
That's too bad, considering an unrelated piece of news that also hit the wires today: planetary geologists think they've found evidence of water ice in the tropical regions of the red planet. Data gathered from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Express missions show that distribution of carbon dioxide ice in the equatorial regions of Mars suggests the presence of water within several feet of the surface. Such findings, if confirmed, would have major implications for the feasibility of any future manned mission to Mars.
Luckily, we shouldn't have to rely on ExoMars to drill down and find it. The Mars Science Laboratory mission slated to launch later this year is headed to middle latitudes that could harbor water, and one of its candidate landing zones is very near an area that the data suggests is water-rich.
We have enough to build more sidewinder missiles, and the newest and most amazing stealth fighters, but not enough to ensure to future of our race.
We're perfectly happy destroying each other, but not funding science that would ultimately save our people.
Don't we give Egypt like a billion every year. I'm sure they can wait one more year.
My sentiments exactly! People love sitting around whining about the cost. Well here is a cold hard news flash. People won't stop breeding and resources are finite. If our species intends to live on we better learn how live off world. Money is pointless when global war over resources renders it useless. But we have to constantly deal with the "It won't happen in my lifetime so I don't care" mentality, or the people who just bury their heads in the sand and pretend like its not a problem. We'd be traveling the stars by now if we didn't have to contend with knuckle heads like this in positions of power.
Don't take life to seriously! You'll never get out of it alive.
Well we do have to pay people to procreate i.e. welfare, if we didn't pay people to breed we would solve both problems at once. Population reduced, money for awesome space exploration found.
Why not take money from the roughly 900 billion we spend on the military each year.
So basically what needs to happen is World War 3. Kill off 1 billion people or 700 million. Just enough to wake people up. Our civilization has to come to some sort of precibus before it changes. We have to be taken to the brink of destruction, because we as a species are too thick headed, and don't get it.
Since the U.S. isn't responsible enough to take care of the space program, and the general public obviously doesn't give two hoots, then let some other country or string of private companies take it over.
We as a society are perfectly comfortable with the "Wait and See" method, the process is genius, we don't have to spend all that time thinking about things and just wait until something so bad happens that we decide it's time to scramble together a plan that's only function is to push the problem a little further into the future so we won't have to deal with it now. Phew! Even the explanation is sufficiently convoluted enough for nobody to question it. We require a cold war, our imminent deaths, or a drastic change in taken-for-granted lifestyle in order to do anything of a large scale. But don't worry, it probably won't even be our problem by the time it happens, and we're more than happy to f**k over the future generations.
hummm looks like the euro's are gonna have to stand on their own to legs for once in their damn lives.
Anybody know the amount of the EU's contribution? The only thing I could find was a BBC article, dated 20 December 2009, that said, "Esa's Council of Ministers has approved an initial budget of 850 million euros to support the missions. It will need to increase the cash available by about 150 million euros in future years."
If that is correct, how is the share of the US three times that of the EU's, when the population of the EU is 1.6 times that of the US?
1) It is cheaper to kill people than send them to another planet - thus war is better than space colonization.
2) Skipping out on a joint mission with the EU doesn't mean we won't have missions (the article mentions one that is already under way).
3) Even ancient Rome proved that when you stop feeding the poor people, it is the rich people who suffer, because they WILL eat and there is always more of them.
4) Funny that you should mention Egypt, since that is exactly what is happening there. Also, check and see how much of that 1 Billion is food-aid (which the cost the government next to nothing, since the US grossly overproduces food and the government soaks it up to keep farmers afloat - something they would do even with no where to send it). That is why the 3rd world riots when we start turning food into fuel - if we find a way to actually use all we produce, we won't give it away for free anymore.
Well said seatellite and cobaltblue1975
look at the human population in realation to other world species, we are grossly overpopulated, even insects when in a overpoulated state that they to damage to the their enviroment. But the thing is insects have natural enemies, humans only natural enemy is themselfs. Im not saying we need to kill our selfs to lower our population but we need to stop reproducing other wise, very soon our enviroment the earth will not be able to support us or its other inhabatats.
over production? Really? Even with agriculture at full production America still can't keep up to demand. its just that people aren't willing to pay the price of the food, between oil prices and subidizations of food stuffs, the farmers can't make a living, and farmers children don't want to put in the effort or time to become a farmer. they realize that time/effort is not equal to the reward.
Yes, overproduction. We are outpacing demand. Have been for years. We have the cheapest food in the world and export more of it than any other country. Russia stopped wheat exports and we still covered their shortfall. We have great land that produces huge amounts of food. Even with just normal crops I don't see us having any trouble anytime soon. Now if people would get over their fears of GM crops we could produce more food than you could ever imagine.
what this is, is Obama cutting NASA's budget