Today, Space.Com on Facebook asked:
“Do you think Mars exploration deserves funding priority over other planetary missions?”
In reference to this article: NASA Raids Outer Planets Budget To Fund Fast Start on Mars Reboot
I responded with:
“A important as Mars is for study, we’ve sent a _crap-ton_ of stuff there already… and Curiosity rover is on it’s way there now.
We’ve GOT a lot of probes already out there – that are functioning… they need to be allowed to continue to work.
- MESSENGER orbiting Mercury, and Cassini orbiting Saturn have gotten extended missions. In addition to the wealth of science Cassini has provided, it has given us some of the most awesomely beautiful images produced by the space program.
- Opportunity rover is STILL functioning on Mars (you guys build ’em good!).
- Dawn probe at Vesta, and Ceres in 2015.
- The Deep Impact probe got a new mission: EPOXI, and studied comet Hartley 2, and continues to observe extrasolar planets.
- New Horizons will fly-by Pluto 1in 2015, and then on to the Kuiper belt.
- The Juno probe is on the way to Jupiter.
- Voyager 1 and 2, launched in 1977, continue to function, and are now skirting the edge of the solar system.
- Soho and Stereo probes looking at the Sun.
- Grail probes and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter orbiting the Moon.
I think we’re doing fairly well in the planetary research arena…
Except for Uranus and Neptune. They deserve more than a single fly-by decades ago; I call for orbiters. They don’t have to get there fast, and there won’t be the knuckle-biting drama of having to fly through a dense ring plane (yikes, just yikes!)”
Serious Discussion: What would it take to get orbiters to Uranus and Neptune? Could the private space industry do it?