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A Reprieve for Space Science?

23 Mar 2018, 14:46 UTC
A Reprieve for Space Science?
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View of WFIRST focusing on supernova SN1995E in NGC 2441. The high-priority but embattled space telescope would, if congressional support continues, add greatly to knowledge about dark energy and dark matter, supernovae, and exoplanets. (NASA)
A quick update on a recent column about whether our “golden age” of space science and discovery was in peril because of cost overruns and Trump administration budget priorities that emphasized human space travel over science.
The 2018 omnibus spending bill that was passed Wednesday night by the House of Representatives and Thursday night by the Senate represents a major push back against the administration’s earlier NASA budget proposals. Not only would the agency receive $1.6 billion more funding than proposed by the administration, but numerous projects that had been specifically eliminated in that proposal are back among the living.
They include four Earth science satellites, a lander to accompany the Europa Clipper mission to that potentially habitable moon and, perhaps most important, the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) space telescope.
Funding for that mission, which was the top priority of the space science community and the National Academy of Sciences for the 2020s, was eliminated in the proposed 2019 Trump budget, but WFIRST ...

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