NASA gets another US$500m to fund future 2024 Mars mission

3 Feb 2015

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NASA is ‘over the moon’ after the budget for the fiscal year 2016 (FY2016) revealed the US space agency is to receive an extra US$500m on top of last year’s US$18bn for future Mars missions.

The news of the extra US$500m comes not long after the budget for FY2015 was announced in December after much delay, which saw NASA receive coincidentally US$500m more than it had expected.

Now, speaking of the budget, NASA’s administrator Charles Bowden praised US President Barack Obama for putting NASA’s total FY2016 budget of US$18.5bn aside for space activities in 2016. The only hurdle now facing the budget’s acceptance is its passing through the US Congress, which is traditionally bipartisan when it comes to space.

“That’s a half-billion-dollar increase over last year’s enacted budget, and it is a clear vote of confidence in you – the employees of NASA – and the ambitious exploration programme you are executing,” said Bowden in his address to NASA staff.

NASA-plans-2016

A screenshot of NASA’s budget presentation showing its expectations for 2016

Aside from the future Mars mission, Bowden also spoke of the funding going towards future missions on Jupiter’s moon, Europa, considered one of the most exciting moons in the solar system with its potential for harbouring life.

Known as the Jupiter Ice Moons Explorer (JUICE), NASA plans to launch an unmanned probe to the icy moon in seven years’ time to reach Europa in 2030.

Back here on Earth, NASA has set aside a little less than US$2bn for monitoring the Earth’s climate, continuing its 42-year Landsat record of global land-imaging measurements.

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Colm Gorey is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com