• New Frontiers Missions 4 and 5,
  • MAX-C (descoped to $2.5 billion),
  • Jupiter Europa Orbiter (descoped), and
  • Uranus Orbiter and Probe.

The cost-constrained program can be conducted assuming the currently projected NASA planetary budget (see Appendix E). It includes the following elements (in no particular order):

  • Discovery program funded at the current level adjusted for inflation,
  • Mars Trace Gas Orbiter conducted jointly with ESA,
  • New Frontiers Mission 4 and 5,
  • MAX-C (descoped to $2.5 billion), and
  • Uranus Orbiter and Probe.

Plausible circumstances could improve the budget picture presented above. If this happened, the additions to the recommended program should be, in priority order:

1. An increase in funding for the Discovery program,

2. Another New Frontiers mission, and

3. Either the Enceladus Orbiter mission or the Venus Climate Mission.

It is also possible that the budget picture could be less favorable than the committee has assumed. If cuts to the program are necessary, the first approach should be to descope or delay flagship missions. Changes to the New Frontiers or Discovery programs should be considered only if adjustments to flagship missions cannot solve the problem. And high priority should be placed on preserving funding for research and analysis programs and for technology development.

Looking ahead to possible missions in the decade beyond 2022, it is important to make significant near-term technology investments now in the Mars Sample Return Lander, Mars Sample Return Orbiter, Titan Saturn System Mission, and Neptune System Orbiter and Probe.


NASA’s planetary research and analysis programs are heavily oversubscribed. Consistent with the mission recommendations and costs presented above, the committee recommends that NASA increase the research and analysis budget for planetary science by 5 percent above the total finally approved FY2011 expenditures in the first year of the coming decade, and increase the budget by 1.5 percent above the inflation level for each successive year of the decade. Also, the future of planetary science depends on a well-conceived, robust, stable technology investment program. The committee unequivocally recommends that a substantial program of planetary exploration technology development should be reconstituted and carefully protected against all incursions that would deplete its resources. This program should be consistently funded at approximately 6 to 8 percent of the total NASA Planetary Science Division budget.


The National Science Foundation supports nearly all areas of planetary science except space missions, which it supports indirectly through laboratory research and archived data. NSF grants and support for field activities are an important source of support for planetary science in the United States and should continue. NSF is also the largest federal funding agency for ground-based astronomy in the United States. The ground-based observational facilities supported wholly or in part by NSF are essential to planetary astronomical observations, both in support of active space missions and in studies independent of (or as follow-up to) such missions. Their continued support is critical to the advancement of planetary science.

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