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Planetary Scientists Applaud President's FY04 Budget Proposal

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 Washington - Feb 07, 2003
The Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society applauds the President's FY04 budget proposal for its vision towards implementing the recommendations within the National Research Council's Solar System Exploration Decadal Survey Report.

A new initiative is proposed for a Jupiter Icy Moon Orbiter (JIMO), enabling the detailed study of Jupiter's icy moons including the investigation of a subsurface ocean and possible life on Europa. The JIMO mission would accomplish the science at Europa given highest priority in the Flagship mission class by the Decadal Survey Report.

In addition, this mission would be the first to fly the nuclear power and electric propulsion system, whose development was started in last year's budget and which was endorsed by the Decadal Survey Report.

JIMO, together with the nuclear power and propulsion technology development, initiates a bold new approach to solar system exploration that enables the detailed and comprehensive flagship planetary exploration missions envisioned by the Decadal Survey Report.

Scientific and public fascination with Mars continues to be strongly supported. A second new initiative to develop optical communications will fly for the first time on the Mars 2009 lander, enabling video data rates from the surface of the planet.

The New Frontiers program is continued with support for the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, the Decadal Survey's highest priority medium cost mission objective. Full support is included for the Cassini/Huygens mission that will arrive at Saturn on July 1, 2004, with prospects for an extended mission.

The ongoing program of competitively selected Discovery missions will continue to bring forward the best and most innovative ideas for low cost solar system exploration.

The President's budget also shows strong support for basic research and analysis programs that ensure the future of space exploration by unraveling mysteries, raising new questions, spawning and supporting flight missions, and by training the next generation of space scientists.

We urge strong support within the Congress for the President's space science budget as the next step toward turning the vision of the Solar System Exploration Decadal Survey Report into reality.

The DPS is the world's largest professional organization dedicated to the exploration of the Solar System.

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New Moons Found Around Neptune
Boston - Jan 14, 2003
A team of astronomers led by Matthew Holman (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) and JJ Kavelaars (National Research Council of Canada) has discovered three previously unknown moons of Neptune.

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