Trump’s NASA budget cuts earth, climate science programs


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) programs on climate and earth science face cuts under President Trump’s first proposed budget blueprint.

The president’s plan, unveiled Thursday, requests $19.1 billion for NASA overall, a 0.8 percent decrease from last year’s $19.3 billion budget.

While NASA managed to escape many of the steeper reductions facing other federal agencies, the blueprint does target many programs tied to climate work.

Earth science programs would be cut slightly from $1.9 billion to $1.8 billion in annual funding.  

{mosads}The blueprint, though, calls for eliminating four earth science missions: PACE, OCO-3, DSCOVR Earth-viewing instruments, and CLARREO Pathfinder.

DSCOVR, the Deep Space Climate Observatory was originally proposed by former Vice President Al Gore, and uses satellites to measure the earth’s carbon levels.

Republicans have long questioned NASA’s earth science work and say the agency should be focused on space exploration.

But Democrats have seen those criticisms as efforts to target climate science. They say NASA has a unique role as the nation’s space agency which gives it unique insights into how climate is affecting the entire planet.

Trump’s budget also calls for cutting $250 million in grants for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) under the Commerce Department to help coastal communities deal with climate change. Trump’s budget also proposes cuts to Environmental Protection Agency climate programs.

NASA’s acting administrator, Robert Lightfoot, praised the budget proposal on Thursday.

“This is a positive budget overall for NASA,” he said.

“This is in line with our funding in recent years, and will enable us to effectively execute our core mission for the nation, even during these times of fiscal constraint.”

The president’s budget is unlikely, though, to be passed into law.

The proposed budget also calls for eliminating NASA $115 million Office of Education in favor of consolidating educational efforts under the agency’s Science Mission Directorate.

Lightfoot also said that because of the cuts, NASA “will not pursue the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM).”

NASA had planned to send a robotic mission to a nearby asteroid and collect samples for research, and redirect the asteroid into an orbit around the moon.

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