NASA Cuts Back Funds for Mars Exploration

March 10, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. exploration (n.) – the act of traveling to a place in order to learn from it
Example: Russians have gone on space explorations to find out if people can live in other planets.

2. reallocate (v.) – to assign to a purpose that is different from what is originally planned
Example: He reallocated his savings to pay for his father’s emergency surgery.

3. withdraw (v.) – to remove oneself from participation
Example: The student withdrew from the music club to be able to focus on her studies.

4. atmosphere (n.) – air or gas that surrounds the earth and other planets
Example: The atmosphere is continuously damaged by smoke factories and vehicles.

5. flagship (n.) – the most important item or product  
Example: The flagship vehicle is displayed in the center of the showroom.

Read the text below.

The 2013 NASA budget proposal from the US government plans to reduce NASA’s funds for Mars exploration. The proposal would also reallocate a bigger part of the budget to human space flights and space exploration.

The US Congress is already likely to approve the plan. This would mean NASA would receive a $17.7 billion fixed budget next year, with Mars exploration funds reduced to only $360.8 million. As such, NASA would be forced to withdraw from its partnership with the European Space Agency for the Mars mission, or ExoMars, in 2016 and 2018.

However, NASA said it is not going to give up other Mars exploration projects. The agency plans to work with partners for a new Mars exploration strategy, but information about this has not yet been announced.

In addition, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover—a robotic vehicle that will study Mars’ surface—will land on Mars this year, while the Maven mission, which aims to study Mars’ atmosphere using a space probe, will still continue in 2013.

Although the agency’s funds for exploring planets would be reduced by 21%, spending on human space exploration would increase by 6%, and by 22% on space technology.

The reallocated funds would help NASA pay for other big commitments, such as a new rocket and capsule system for exploring the moon and asteroids. The agency would also be able to address rising costs of its flagship James Webb Space Telescope mission, which will be used to study how planets are formed.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you think space and planetary explorations are important?
·         If you were to explore space, what would you like to find out? Please explain further.

Discussion B

·         Do you believe life exists in other planets? Why or why not?
·         How will it affect us if life is discovered in other planets?


March 10, 2012