Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s missions to Mars have gotten a boost from congressional leaders, who this week found up to $100 million more for NASA’s planetary science program.
The White House’s initial proposal for the 2013 NASA budget would have cut planetary science funding by $300 million, scrapping two future Mars missions and threatening hundreds of jobs at JPL.
A new version of the NASA budget that passed the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday restores $88 million of the planetary science cuts, said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank). A companion proposal that recently cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee would restore a total of $100 million.
Both proposals will go to full floor votes in the coming weeks before differences between the House and Senate bills are reconciled by a conference committee.
“I’m hoping we’ll get a number better than either when we go to conference,” said Schiff, who will be a member of that conference committee. “We need to increase the funding further to maintain the kind of Mars program we’d like to see.”