WASHINGTON — Scientists say NASA is about to propose major cuts in its exploration of other planets, especially Mars.
Two scientists who were briefed on the 2013 NASA budget that will be released next week said the space agency is eliminating two proposed joint missions with Europeans to explore Mars in 2016 and 2018. NASA had agreed to pay $1.4 billion for those missions. Some Mars missions will continue, but the fate of future flights is unclear.
The scientists said the cuts to the Mars missions are part of a proposed double-digit percentage reduction in NASA’s planetary science budget.
NASA spokesman David Weaver said the agency is reassessing its current Mars exploration program to maximize results.
The scientists spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the budget.