Republicans outraged over NASA earth science programs… that Reagan began

NASA‘s new DSCOVR satellite provides views of Earth from 1.6 million km away. (credit: NASA)

Perhaps the biggest budget battle this spring in NASA policy concerned earth science, and after slumbering this summer, that fight could soon return to prominence thanks to the new Congressional budget deal.

Whereas President Obama sought to increase NASA’s budget for earth science in this fiscal year, Republicans in Congress sought to slash it by hundreds of millions of dollars. From a historical perspective, the staunch Republican opposition to studying climate and weather changes on Earth is surprising. Both Presidents Reagan and the first George Bush supported robust plans to study Earth from space, and the fleet of satellites in orbit today are one of the main space legacies of their terms in office.

NASA budget fights

On Wednesday, the US House of Representatives passed a budget deal that will allow for modest increases to federal spending, and the Senate seems likely to pass this agreement next week. According to an analysis by the Planetary Society’s Casey Dreier, the agreements reached this week may give policymakers as much as an additional $800 million for NASA.

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