The Planetary Society has presented the full Congress with a petition signed by 10,000 supporters, urging the House and Senate to support increases in funding for the exploration of the outer planets. The funds are included in the proposed 2003 NASA budget, recommended by the House Sub-Committee on Appropriations for VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies. The additional funds will enable NASA to move ahead with the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, and to re-start development on a Europa orbiter.
"It is remarkable that in these times, when the country is preoccupied with extraordinary issues of security, liberty, and the economy, that so much public attention is still paid to the exploration of distant regions of the solar system," said Louis Freidman, Executive Director of The Planetary Society, in a letter to Congress. "This in itself, we believe, is both a symbol and a manifestation of America's strength."
Both missions address fundamental questions about the nature and evolution of our solar system. A recent study by the National Academy of Sciences, the Solar System Decadal Survey, gave both missions its highest priority recommendation.
Some 10,000 persons signed The Planetary Society petition, which advocates a vigorous program of science and exploration, including missions to Pluto and Europa. The petition also advocated a concrete and far-sighted plan for the International Space Station that includes a human exploration component.
For the past two years, The Planetary Society has led the public campaign for exploration of the outer solar system, especially in regards to missions to Pluto and Europa. For more information, visit the Society's website at planetary.org.