Graduate Student Petition

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

June 20, 2012
Dear House of Representatives and Senate,

As planetary science graduate students representing 33 American institutions, we are deeply concerned about the President’s proposed budget cuts to NASA for FY2013. Specifically, this budget includes a 21% cut in funding to NASA’s planetary science program, which will have serious repercussions for America’s position as a leader in science and technology. These cuts will delay the successful Discovery and New Frontiers programs, seriously damage the hugely successful Mars exploration program for decades to come, and prevent missions to Europa and the gas giants in the outer solar system. In addition, these cuts will force NASA to cancel its planned collaborations with international partners and abandon American leadership in the robotic exploration of the Solar System.

What concerns us the most, however, is the impact that this budget would have on current and future generations of American scientists. Since federal fellowships and grants support many of us in our graduate studies, it would be a shame if we were forced to seek positions abroad after graduation. In addition, the dearth of future planetary missions that will result from the proposed budget will eliminate a key source of inspiration for young elementary, middle and high school students to enter into science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. A strong STEM workforce is a necessary requirement to maintain America’s status as a global leader in innovation and technology.

We are asking that you restore NASA’s funding to the FY2012 levels, consistent with the recommendations of the National Research Council of the National Academies, as put forward in their planetary science decadal survey. We recognize the difficulty of the decisions that you must make during these challenging economic times, but hope that you will not let 2012 mark the end of America’s long tradition of leadership in space exploration.

Thank you for considering our views.

Sincerely,
U.S. Graduate Students for NASA Planetary Science

Universities represented: Arizona State University, Brown University, California Institute of Technology, Case Western Reserve, Cornell University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Indiana University at Bloomington, Iowa State University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New Mexico State University, Ohio State, Purdue University, San Francisco State University, Stony Brook University, University of Alabama, University of Arizona, University of Arkansas, University of California (Los Angeles), University of Colorado (Boulder), University of Hawaii (Manoa), University of Idaho, University of Maryland (College Park), University of New Mexico, University of Notre Dame, University of Tennessee (Knoxville), University of Texas at Austin, University of Texas at El Paso, University of Virginia, University of Washington, Washington University at St. Louis, and Waynesburg University.

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Questions/comments regarding this petition should be directed to Matthew Chojnacki ([email protected])