Today, we learned of the loss of the Glory Earth science satellite in an accident today. This satellite would have studied the role of aerosols and clouds in climate, a crucial area needing study to understand climate change. My sympathies to the many who worked on the mission and the many scientists who counted on its data for their studies.
NASA is advised by an advisory council, which has a planetary science subcommittee that met this week to review NASA's FY12 proposed budget. According to an article published on the Space News website, The article quotes the chair of the subcommittee as saying, “ 'The out-years budget means no major new starts of a flagship planetary [mission],' Ronald Greeley, a regent’s professor at Arizona State University in Tempe and chairman of the NASA Advisory Council’s planetary science subcommittee, said during a March 1 conference call with panel members. ;That’s a major, major issue for our community.' ” The subcommittee's report on the meeting included the following:
"Regarding whether funds for a new flagship mission would come from existing programs (Discovery, R&A, extended missions, etc) or new money: We have to stay within the President’s budget. We may have to reprioritize based on the priorities that emerge from the decadal survey.
"Regarding the future of New Frontiers: Right now there are planned funds for NF3 and some planning for NF4, but that is subject to change depending on priorities established by the decadal survey.
"Regarding a joint ESA/US Jupiter system mission: We talked to ESA when the budget was released, and we continue to talk with our counterparts, a bi‐lat is scheduled for the end of March. You should not assume that we wouldn’t participate in an ESA‐led Ganymede orbiter; we may provide instruments of opportunity. It is doubtful that they would for any reason change their destination to Europa at this juncture."