Mark V. Sykes Planetary Science Institute
New awards for planetary R&A programs are recording success rates of 10-12%. From selection letter language, there is no commitment to later funding that will significantly increase these success rates. This is a policy decision by Planetary Division management. Given the recent commitment to a $1.5B MSL2 launching in 2020 (with no science objective yet defined - and a mission not called for in the recent decadal survey), it is alarming there is no commitment to funding stability for these research programs, much less the modest growth called for by the decadal survey. Per numerous NRC reports over the years, R&A programs are the foundation on which the strategic goals of the US solar system exploration program are pursued, missions are defined, and return on the tax-payer investment in those missions are gained. We face the prospect of losing science capability, particularly among the next generation of planetary scientists. This loss is not reversible on short timescales.
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