An anonymous reader writes: The House appropriators delivered the details of their proposed 2016 NASA budget on Tuesday. The reaction depends on the perspective of who was reacting. The Earth Science community is not very happy because the budget cuts $250 million from President Obama’s request for its priority. The budget also cuts the same amount from the commercial crew program, unwise in the opinion of many considering the current woes besetting the Russian space program upon which the world depends to access the International Space Station. However, the Planetary Science community is ecstatic. Not only does the House bill provide $140 million toward a mission to Europa to be launched in the early 2020s, but also has a line item for the Ocean Worlds Exploration Program.
The Ocean Worlds Exploration Program would be initially funded at $86 million. The program would start developing the technology and making plans for missions to outer planets moons as diverse as Titan, a moon of Saturn with methane seas, and Enceladus, a frozen world covering a subsurface ocean similar to Europa, with spectacular geysers. The program is apparently the brainchild of the subcommittee’s chairman, Rep. John Culberson. The program will use a mix of Discover, New Frontier, and Flagship class missions