Environment & Science

How the Trump budget could affect NASA's JPL

Planning for NASA's 2020 Mars rover envisions a basic structure that capitalizes on re-using the design and engineering work done for the NASA rover Curiosity, which landed on Mars in 2012, but with new science instruments selected through competition for accomplishing different science objectives with the 2020 mission. Under the Trump administration's budget proposal the Mars 2020 program would see an increase in funding.
Planning for NASA's 2020 Mars rover envisions a basic structure that capitalizes on re-using the design and engineering work done for the NASA rover Curiosity, which landed on Mars in 2012, but with new science instruments selected through competition for accomplishing different science objectives with the 2020 mission. Under the Trump administration's budget proposal the Mars 2020 program would see an increase in funding.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

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On Tuesday, the Trump administration released its 2018 budget proposal, which included a $19.1 billion allocation for NASA, a near one percent decrease from the year prior.

If the budget passes as is, which is unlikely, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory here in Southern California, will see some changes. 

The proposal raises the budget for planetary science from $1.6 to $1.9 billion, under which some of JPL's biggest missions live. The research institute's mission to Jupiter's icy moon Europa, where scientists hope to find life, sees its budget rise $150 million. Mars exploration rises $71 million over the 2017 budget. However, JPL's mission to send another rover to Mars in 2020 loses about $3 million in funding.

When it comes to eliminating missions altogether, there's one program from JPL that the Trump administration is proposing throwing to the wayside: the third version of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory satellite (OCO-3), which is intended to track carbon dioxide and how it spreads across the Earth. There's an OCO-2 in orbit with similar functionalities, so the Trump administration says another is unnecessary. 

When asked for comment, JPL provided a statement from Director Michael Watkins, "We are very pleased that the new budget confirms that there is a high level of confidence in the important work we are doing at JPL. We have a strong slate of missions, current and future, and we are focusing on executing these exciting missions."