The joint exploration by NASA and ESA, encompassing joint efforts from the American and European space agency seemed like a dream come true for astronomers from both sides. Especially after the European side designed and started building the Mars Rover, everything appeared to go in the right direction. But the issues NASA is facing at the moment will take their toll on this project too, as with so many others.
A new report from the US National Research Council claims that the esimated budget of $3.5bn for the American part is too high; one billion dollars too high, to be more exact. This leaves the joint initiative facing major problems, as the two sides will have to find a way to solve one side’s problems and work together to achieve the goal they set, with a huge budget gap.
“We’re quite confident that a really good mission can be done for $2.5bn,” said the survey’s chairman Professor Steve Squyres, “but we leave it to those two agencies to work out exactly the details of what that would look like.
So yeah, we cut one third of all your money, but we’re positive you guys will be able to figure something out – sounds like a good plan to me.
“Critically, we feel that the de-scopes have to be shared equitably between Nasa and Esa because it’s so important to preserve the partnership with Esa. We can’t force all the bad news on to Esa; it’s got to be a fair split.”
Things seem to be a bit stuck, and until the two space agencies can find out some sort of brilliant solution to this problem, what wil be done exactly in 2018 remains a matter of debate for everyone. I’m just hoping NASA will rid itself of this kind of issues, because the report I told you about above will be extremely influential.
Andrei's background is in geophysics, and he's been fascinated by it ever since he was a child. Feeling that there is a gap between scientists and the general audience, he started ZME Science -- and the results are what you see today.