There's been little news to report lately, hence the lack of posts.
NASA's budget for FY2012 (which starts October 1) continues to wind it's way through Congress. The committees responsible for NASA's budget in the House and Senate both have completed their recommended budgets. They have recommended funding at $1.5B, just $40M less than the President's request. While the House committee recommended cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the Senate recommended a substantial increase in this program's budget (with the increase coming from other parts of NASA's budget than the planetary program).
These actions are good leading indicators for the planetary program. However, this is likely to be an unusual budget year. Current law requires substantial cuts to the federal budget that will be either automatic across the board cuts or will follow the recommendations of a super committee that will attempt to draft recommendations for targeted cuts. Any cuts to the planetary program would likely be applied to future mission planning and development (which is why I follow the budget in this blog -- budget politics certainly are not where my interests lie!).
I will be traveling the next few weeks, so future posts may be erratic for a bit. However, I may finally find time on airplanes to write a couple of posts I've been wanting to write.