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The American Geophysical Union is unhappy with NASA–today they released a statement taking the space agency to task for focusing on pie-in-the-sky human space flight instead of the type of steady earth and space sciences that are the AGU’s bread-and-butter. Says the AGU:

“NASA is being asked to do more than it can with the resources provided. Shifting financial resources from science threatens vital investments and capabilities that have taken decades and tens of billions of tax dollars to build. AGU believes that the nation must capitalize on the extraordinary scientific advances of the last few decades and asks the U.S. Administration, Congress, and NASA to renew their commitment to earth and space science research.”

How much is at stake? The AGU says that NASA’s proposed 2006 budget reduces scientific research by $1.2 billion over the next five years, with the cuts almost equally distributed between earth and space sciences. That’s a lot in anybody’s book, and good science is going to suffer. For what? A program that even the Administration doesn’t seem all that interested in. How many times have you heard President Bush exalt his plans for the moon and Mars, after his initial announcement? Where’s the passion? I don’t see it, and I don’t see any indication that the Administration is aware of the cost to quality science that this “vision” entails.

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