Don't gut NASA space missions

Story highlights

  • NASA budget may force premature cancellation of either Curiosity or Cassini
  • Janet Vertesi: The cuts not only hurt scientists, but also our leadership in STEM
  • Vertesi: Do we really want to put someone like NASA's famous "Mohawk Guy" out of a job?
  • She says if we end the Cassini or the Curiosity mission, it would be a national crisis
As scientists from around the world gathered in San Francisco for the American Geophysical Union meeting, the success stories are pouring in. On Monday, the Mars Curiosity mission team released a new study showing that the former lake bed in which the Rover landed could once have supported microbial life. The Cassini mission to Saturn released a spectacular video of mysterious hexagonal clouds whirling over the planet's pole.
But the question on everyone's mind is: Will these missions be allowed to continue? The answer may well be: No.
Next year's NASA budget is poised to force premature cancellation of either Curiosity or Cassini -- the agency's flagship missions. Funding decisions get made behind closed doors, but projected figures