Scientists see red on NASA cuts of Mars missions

WASHINGTON (AP) — Upset scientists want to make sure the U.S. doesn’t give up on future Mars exploration because of a tight federal budget.

Mars advocates are meeting with NASA officials Monday to reboot a Mars program that scientists say was gutted by cuts in President Barack Obama‘s proposed 2013 budget. Researchers compare it to calling off the moon mission just before Apollo 11 landed.

NASA officials say they won’t be able to fly joint Mars missions with Europe in 2016 and 2018. That also delays indefinitely scientists’ No. 1 priority, which is a mission to return rocks and soil from Mars to Earth.

NASA is trying to find a cheaper alternative for its 2018 mission.

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