Refocusing NASA planetary science funding


  • Sarah Zielinski


NASA should invest more money in data analysis for its planetary science missions, even if it means delaying or canceling a future mission, members of the science committee of the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) uggested at a 12 October meeting.

Science committee member Mark Robinson, director of the Center for Planetary Sciences at Northwestern University in Chicago, Ill., said that large amounts of data from NASA planetary science missions are accumulating, and the funds for data analysis often are inadequate to properly analyze all of it. For example, there is a large amount of currently unanalyzed Mars data that could be used in planning for the Mars Science Laboratory (expected to launch in 2009), and particularly for site selection. This includes data from the recently arrived Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is likely to send more data to Earth in its first year than has been collected by all previous Mars missions combined.