Before I list the links, here are a couple of more thoughts:
- The increase in the Planetary program may be to pay for the production of plutonium-238. Last year, Congress complained that the Department of Energy (which by U.S. law is the only agency allowed to produce these nuclear materials) was bearing the budget hit for new Pu-238 production. The increase to next year's budget may be to move that hit to NASA (who would just funnel the funds to DOE).
- In an e-mail discussion, Phil H. points out that the new Precursor program might fund the Lunar sample return that is currently a candidate for the next New Frontiers slot. I think this is possible (and almost any speculation is possible right now given the scarcity of details on this new program). However, the near Earth asteroid mission that is currently in competition would be an equally good candidate for this program. Given that all three contenders would make excellent choices (the third is a Venus lander), I'd love to see one or more of them flown under a separate budget.
Planetary Focused Discussions
The Planetary Society editorial
The Gish Bar Timeshttp://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=270899075443508100
General NASA Budget
NASA's budget site
Discover (bad astronomy)
Space Politics (I always like to read the comments)
The Martian Chronicles