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Odyssey and MER Budgets Cut
Ryan
post Mar 24 2008, 09:11 PM
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Just found out today at a MER all-hands meeting that both MER and Odyssey will each be suffering an immediate $4 million budget cut to help defray the cost of MSL. Read more here: http://martianchronicles.wordpress.com/200...rs-budget-cuts/
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brellis
post Mar 24 2008, 09:57 PM
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Sorry to hear about it. There was at one point a proposal for "targeted tax cuts". I wish we could make "targeted tax payments". All my "discretionary" taxes would be dedicated to the space program!
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djellison
post Mar 24 2008, 11:07 PM
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I'm writing emails to people to see what, if anything, can be done from a public voice perspective.

Not like this. Please not like this.



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nprev
post Mar 24 2008, 11:28 PM
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I'm sure Emily's aware; hopefully, TPS will come out swinging.

What kills me is that this is about a lousy $8 million; that is CHUMP CHANGE in terms of government spending!!! However, half of it also represents more than a third of the MERs' remaining operating budget this year, which is devastating.

Somebody's not thinking this through, IMHO. sad.gif


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Stu
post Mar 24 2008, 11:52 PM
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Just got in from work to find this news. Unbelievable.

Obviously it's tempting for everyone to come out guns blazing right now, and fire outraged emails off in all directions, but clearly we'll have a louder voice if we work together and work to a plan, too. We need to know exactly who to write to to protest about this, and to get as many people onboard as possible, right across the online space community. I'm sure TPS and UMSF, plus Phil over at Bad Astronomy, plus Universe Today, Space.com and various other websites could have a very loud voice indeed if we all worked together.


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djellison
post Mar 24 2008, 11:57 PM
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Yup - I'd ask people to hang tight from the ranting and letter writing until we know exactly what, if anything, the public voice can do. Once we know, then we do whatever we can. But until we know what the best action is, it's best to wait.

Update : The official word is, hold tight for the next few days.
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ElkGroveDan
post Mar 25 2008, 12:16 AM
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QUOTE (Stu @ Mar 24 2008, 03:52 PM) *
Obviously it's tempting for everyone to come out guns blazing right now, and fire outraged emails off in all directions, but clearly we'll have a louder voice if we work together and work to a plan, too. We need to know exactly who to write to to protest about this, and to get as many people onboard as possible, right across the online space community.


Stu is correct. In my job I am often on the receiving end of similar outraged letters and emails. Informed, intelligent and coordinated is a very powerful way to do this. Lashing out and hurling invective is incredibly counterproductive. So lets cool off, and I'd say watch Emily's column, I'm guessing TPS will get the best information the soonest.


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nprev
post Mar 25 2008, 12:59 AM
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Agreed. There are a lot of systemic factors to consider, and apologies for my initial outrage (I sent no nastygrams, though.) Main thing as I see it is that we don't know the budget wickets that have to be run through.

NASA is stand-alone, unlike most other Federal agencies that are part of huge departments, which with correspondingly large budgets have a lot more flexibility in rerouting funding. Eight million clams ain't much in the grand scheme of things, here. I'm--very--cautiously optimistic that there are some untapped means to ameliorate this.


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brellis
post Mar 25 2008, 01:12 AM
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QUOTE (nprev @ Mar 24 2008, 05:59 PM) *
I'm--very--cautiously optimistic that there are some untapped means to ameliorate this.


hmm, maybe a sponsor can come to the rescue, but does anyone really want to see Spirit renamed "The Google Rover"? unsure.gif
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Stu
post Mar 25 2008, 01:27 AM
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QUOTE (nprev @ Mar 25 2008, 12:59 AM) *
apologies for my initial outrage (I sent no nastygrams, though.) Main thing as I see it is that we don't know the budget wickets that have to be run through.


Hey, absolutely no need to apologise for that! We're all gnawing on our knuckles here, I'm sure! But the main thing is to take a deep breath and figure out how to challenge this, seriously and through the proper channels, so we don't come across as a bunch of angry internet space geeks who are p****d that their hi-tech toys are being taken away from them. Once we identify the right people to target, and agree on a common message, that will allow us to make a solid, practical and economic case for keeping the rovers funded, then we can gather allies around us and move forward.

There may come a day when the rovers have to be abandoned. There may come a day when it simply makes no sense to keep throwing money at them. There may come a day when we have to accept that they've nowhere else to go, nothing else to do, and should go to sleep.

But today is not that day.


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nprev
post Mar 25 2008, 01:46 AM
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Thanks for the words of encouragement, O Poet Laureate! smile.gif Certainly in this community sanity and unity will prevail; I do cringe a bit at the thought of what others might be doing even as we speak, though...

Brellis, I hear ya; that's actually not the option I had in mind (but, gotta tell ya, at this point wouldn't mind seeing the MERs and Odyssey sponsored by Google, though never renamed. Hell, $8M is like the price of sixteen Super Bowl ads, maybe less!) What I was thinking of was finding other Federal funding that could be reapportioned.

Again, NASA's in a bit of a spot for this sort of thing because it's administratively not affiliated with any other agencies with lateral disbursing authority for operations & maintenance funding (AKA 3400 money), AFAIK. Still, it seems that some sort of arrangement should be possible, and I sure hope that any such options are being thoroughly explored.


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brellis
post Mar 25 2008, 02:15 AM
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A while back I wondered if due to budget constraints, operators would be inclined to attempt ever more suicidal stunts with their maneuvers, knowing that there would be no funding for further operations. How dangerous is hibernation? At what point would it be worth it purely for budgetary reasons to test the navigational limits of Spirit's abilities, as opposed to putting the baby to sleep and risking further budget cuts?

However this plays out, it is a great measure of success for the MER missions that the rovers have survived so far beyond expectations.

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nprev
post Mar 25 2008, 02:25 AM
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QUOTE (brellis @ Mar 24 2008, 07:15 PM) *
However this plays out, it is a great measure of success for the MER missions that the rovers have survived so far beyond expectations.


Truer words were never spoken. Gotta quote Doug as well, though: "Not like this. Please not like this."

wheel.gif wheel.gif wheel.gif wheel.gif wheel.gif wheel.gif ...till they fall off!!!!!!!


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merman
post Mar 25 2008, 02:26 AM
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Hi all,

It is important for everyone to realize that these budget cuts are not set in stone, not yet. The budget will be cut, yes, but it may not be by a full $4 million over the next 6 months. Steve and others in the MER team are working to soften the blow; part of this will include approaching Congress for some extra money. This is where you, and the public in general, can help.

Write to members of Congress. Particularly, write to members of the Science and Technology Committees as well as the Appropriations Committees, for both the House and Senate. Some of the members of these committees may in fact be your elected members of Congress; all the better. For a list of who is on the committees (and subcommittees), take a look at the following sites;

House Appropriations Committee
http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/cgi-bin/...ommcode=happrop

Senate Appropriations Committee
http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/cgi-bin/...ommcode=sapprop

Senate Commerce, Science, and Technology Committee
http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/cgi-bin/...mcode=scommerce

House Science and Technology Committee
http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/cgi-bin/...mmcode=hscience

The letters don't have to be long, detailed, or technical. What's important is that they refer to the MER project, the budget cuts, and your support of the project and it's continued funding. Also, written letters arriving by mail have the most clout, with a fax coming in second. If you are a constituent writing your representative a letter, it means a lot.

Above all else, though, please be polite and positive in the letter. Don't rant and rave, put down other missions or projects, lay any blame, or deride individuals. This is very much a place where you'll catch more flies with honey.

Thanks to everyone for all of your support.
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mcaplinger
post Mar 25 2008, 02:39 AM
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QUOTE (djellison @ Mar 24 2008, 03:07 PM) *
Not like this. Please not like this.

At the risk of being virtually pilloried by this crowd, would you prefer that they killed a rover through
miscommanding, like VL1 or MGS? rolleyes.gif

This is a pretty obvious "Washington Monument" ploy, not worth being that upset about yet. That said, does anyone think much more good science is going to be coming out of Spirit?


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Disclaimer: This post is based on public information only. Any opinions are my own.
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