Top US scientists fight for NASA science budget
NASA's proposed cuts to its science budget will have a devastating impact on astronomy and Earth-science research for years to come, an expert panel told a US congressional committee on Thursday.
The $16.8 billion budget includes $5.3 billion for science in 2007. But to fund shortfalls in the shuttle programme, it calls for $3.1 billion in cuts to science programmes by 2010, compared to projections made in the 2006 budget request.
Each scientist spoke of the budget request's chilling effect on researchers in their fields. "The sense of gloom and discouragement is widespread," said Berrien Moore, co-chair of the NAS decadal survey for Earth sciences and a researcher at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, US.
They were particularly concerned about $350 million to $400 million in cuts to research and analysis grants over the next five years...
These grants provide funding to many university researchers â€“ particularly those starting their careers, the panelists said. "We're at a tipping point," Moore said. If the budget is passed as it stands, young researchers will begin to leave the field because the cuts send the message that the US "is not interested in Earth and space science".