Monday, April 4, 2005
Interplanetary space probes Voyager 1 and 2, after traveling 28 years
and 14 billion kilometers to the edge of the solar system and the
threshold of interstellar space, face a possible shutdown in October
of this year.
NASA's Earth-Sun System division, which runs the program, amongst
others, has had to cut its budget for next year from 74 million to 53
million dollars, calling for some project abandonments. The cuts for
Voyager and other missions are planned to help fund President George
W. Bush's "Vision for Space Exploration", his plan to return to the moon
and a manned mission to Mars.
According to the Washington Post, Dick Fisher, NASA's deputy director
for the Earth-Sun division, said the agency based its cuts on a
"senior review" by outside experts, giving Voyager a low priority
among the division's 13 "extended" missions.
It costs NASA $4.2 million a year to run the Voyager science
programs which have an expected operating lifetime to the year 2020.
Both spacecraft function well and continue to return valuable
scientific data. Most recently, information about massive solar
flares that occurred in 2003 and the resulting shock waves that
traveled through the solar system were detected by Voyager 2 in April
"There are no other plans to reach the edge of the solar system," said
Stamatios Krimigis, on board the Voyager mission since before the
launch in 1977. "Now we're getting all this new information, and here
comes NASA saying, 'We want to pull the plug.' "
Other missions possibly affected by the budget cuts include: Ulysses,
to study the sun; Geotail, Wind, and Polar studying effects of solar
events on Earth; Fast Auroral SnapshoT (FAST), studying Earth's aurora
and the Transition Region and Coronal Explorer (TRACE), studying solar
atmosphere and magnetic fields.
No final decisions have been made as of yet but are expected to come
sometime this month, possibly by April 15. Edward Stone of the
California Institute of Technology told Nature magazine: "We are
currently developing a plan for shutdown."
== Related news ==
"White House cuts Hubble from budget" — Wikinews, January 26, 2005
== Sources ==
Guy Gugliotta. "Historic Voyager Mission May Lose Its Funding" — Washington Post, April 4, 2005
"Voyager probes in funding crisis" — BBC News, March 10, 2005
== References ==
NASA Voyager Web Site
Interstellar Pioneers Facing Termination