Planetary Society Presents a New World to Congress

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On May 25, The Planetary Society, in cooperation with the House Science Committee, will presents to Congress "Exploring a New World," in Washington DC, featuring filmmaker James Cameron, Bill Nye the Science Guy, planetary scientist Heidi B. Hammel, and Society Executive Director Louis Friedman. The event is part of the Society's ongoing Save Our Science SOS campaign and is designed to remind congress and the Administration of the vision needed to continue exploring our solar system.

May 25 marks the 45th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's 1961 speech to Congress launching the Apollo Program. Almost half a century later, The Planetary Society will remind Congress of the vision needed to undertake such space ventures by hosting a special presentation in Washington DC that features filmmaker James Cameron, Bill Nye the Science Guy, planetary scientist Heidi B. Hammel, and Society Executive Director Louis Friedman.

In contrast to Kennedy's vision, the fiscal year 2007 budget proposed for NASA contains cuts that threaten to end the era of exploration that brought us the Hubble Space Telescope, Mars Exploration Rovers, Cassini-Huygens at Saturn, Deep Impact and Stardust. The Administration proposes to drastically cut future space science, especially astrobiology research; to stop work on new missions to Europa and to find terrestrial planets; and to not include Mars planning in the Vision for Space Exploration.

Presented in cooperation with the House Science Committee, "Exploring a New World" - is another step in The Planetary Society's ongoing campaign to Save Our Science (SOS). Visit http://planetary.org/sos for details.

"We stand at a crossroads with planetary exploration," said Friedman. "The next NASA budget will determine whether we continue an exploration program that has yielded stunning results and promises even greater adventures in the future, or we turn our backs on the universe that awaits us."

Over the past few weeks, thousands of concerned members of the public have written their congressional representatives and signed The Planetary Society's petition in a worldwide SOS on behalf of planetary exploration. The Society presented those signatures to Congress today, but will continue to urge the public to contact the Appropriations Committees in the weeks leading up to the NASA budget mark-up in June.

As it now stands, the budget submitted by the Bush Administration for NASA would slash $3 billion from the planned exploration of the solar system, as well as from space science research and analysis.

In addition, the budget cuts astrobiology, the study of and search for life beyond Earth, by a full 50%. University research funding would be cut 15% across the board, eliminating many bright young people from the field of space science.

Today's presentation will highlight the exploration possible with a properly funded planetary science program, focusing on the wonders that may await us at Jupiter’s moon Europa, which has a vast subsurface ocean. Cameron will share a segment from his IMAX film, “Aliens of the Deep,” which includes an animated sequence that speculates about future exploration of that icy Jovian moon. Hammel will explain why scientists are anxious to explore this intriguing world, and Nye will discuss the importance to our society of continued exploration, especially to attracting young people into science and engineering.

The Society also escalated its SOS campaign by launching a new advertising campaign, "Don't Trash Space Science." The provocative ad campaign, endorsed by members of the space community, scientists, visionaries, and celebrities, debuted in Washington area newspapers and on the internet. View the ad at http://planetary.org/programs/projects/sos/ad.html.

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Susan Lendroth
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