Mark V. Sykes, Planetary Science Institute
The US planetary science community is a national resource that is essential to our solar system exploration program. This community was created by and is sustained through NASA support, a significant fraction of which is the planetary R&A programs. An analysis of updated budget information posted at http://planetarypolicy.org shows that funding for annually competed research and data analysis programs in ROSES (less than 13% of the planetary budget) in recent years is:
At a minimum, this year's decline needs to be reversed to ensure that selection rates are improved to stop the imminent loss of the younger generation of planetary scientists as well as many seasoned researchers. The cost is frankly small and demands high priority.
Multi-year budget planning is essential.
We also face significant negative consequences from the effective collapse of the Discovery program combined with the termination of the Mars Scount program. Discovery (now including Mars) needs to be restored to its original AO cadence and selection rates. With the absence of Administration leadership, this will require action by the community to call for additional appropriated funds with explicit direction by Congress.
[Editor Note: This Editorial was modified on 12/31/12, to correct an error, reducing the FY11 budget from $159M to $151M, and include changes in the text to reflect this.]