Wednesday, March 16, 2011

One Figure Decadal Survey Summary

James Green, director of NASA' Planetary Science program, included this one figure summary of the Decadal Survey's recommendations.  No new news, but a handy summary.  You can read the entire (short) presentation at


  1. I strain to see the high priotitization of a Uranus Orbiter as an earnest policy decision. It feels, as I said before, like a poison pill meant to force someone's hand to make a big change and revert the latest denouements back to the Mars+Europa plans.

    Uranus is prioritized lower than Neptune because Neptune has Triton... right?! Uranus means shorter flight times: that's one point to its credit. Solar vs. nuclear... even the white paper says only that that MAY be possible, not that it is. How does a mission get such lofty backing on "MAY"? This is like JIMO in reverse. (Speculative technology for an underwhelming mission instead of impossible technology for an overwhelmingly great -- were it possible, which JIMO wasn't -- mission.)

    Titan, Enceladus, Triton, Io, Europa... that blockbuster lineup is being edged out by the Uranus system? That really isn't going to happen. I can't see this as anything other than a bargaining chip in a negotiation between agencies. It's like NASA is a teenager saying, "If you don't let me go out, I'll cut all my hair off."

  2. Jrehling, I concur. Just articulating the words “Uranus Orbiter and Probe” will send the vast majority of the public into paroxysms of laughter. This is indeed a poison pill, one that would do serious public relations damage, not only to NASA, but space science in general. The ridicule and humiliation that would inevitably be brought by such a mission is lamentable. Hopefully this eye wateringly poor decision is reversed in time – and quietly.