Trump’s 2018 Budget Here: Axes 5 Earth Science Missions
President Donald Trump stated in the past that his focus would be space missions, and it seems that he is keeping his word. The 2018 budget sees five NASA Earth science missions facing the chopping block.
Four of these missions were announced back in March: the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, Ocean Ecosystem (PACE) satellite that monitors Earth's ocean health and atmosphere; the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 experiment that tracks carbon-dioxide levels from the International Space Station; the Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) Pathfinder climate instrument set for a 2020 timeframe; and the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) that is currently in orbit as it monitors Earth from space. The last one, as noted by Space.com is the Radiation Budget Instrument (RBI).
The RBI had been part of the Joint Polar Satellite System 2, a mission from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, that is scheduled to launch to Earth orbit in late 2021. It is supposed to measure the effect of clouds on the energy budget on Earth, as stated by NASA's acting chief financial officer, Andrew Hunter. However, the RBI has been having technical difficulties. But in matters of priority and budget-related decisions, it has to go as well.
Three of the missions listed are still under development. But DSCOVR, which launched in February 2015, has since returned many images of Earth from its 930,000-mile kilometer vantage point in orbit. If the budget proposal becomes final, the photos taken by the mission will stop coming in, although it may still go on with its other work of providing warning of solar storms.
SpaceFlight Now reported that NASA is not left penniless. It will still have a budget that can go on to support the $8.6 billion James Webb Space Telescope, the successor of the Hubble Space Telescope. The successor is set to launch next year. Two robotic Mars landers, a planned mission to study Jupiter's moon Europa from orbit and two probes designed to study asteroids also made the cut.