When it's budget review time in Washington, it helps if an agency or department requesting money has something to show off. No one could argue that NASA has certainly been bringing it home lately. Budget hearings for the space agency are underway now and are dominated by the recent success of the New Horizons Pluto fly by. When a government agency has brought back such an epic amount of data and photos, a good case can be made for continued funding.
NASA's Dr. John Grunsfeld spoke to the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology saying, "Are we alone? We are on the cusp of being able to answer that question … because of the investments we're making in space technology." While the Pluto mission went extremely well, the scientists at NASA are not resting on their laurels. There are planned missions to Mars and the Jupiter moon, Europa. The budget for the Planetary Sciences division of NASA was approved recently, however it was increased by taking funds from the Earth Sciences division, so the discussion on what to fund and how much to allocate to which programs is one to watch.