The death of Spirit?

In yet another example of mixed up priorities “NASA officials have directed the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) program to cut $4 million dollars from its approximately 20 million dollar budget this year” as reported here. The implications of this to program run on such a tight budget is that there will be staff cuts resulting in one of the rovers (Spirit) having to discontinue science operations and be put into hibernation mode.

Now I don’t know about you, but this makes me incredibly angry. The fact that such a valuable program will be so dramatically reduced because of such a paltry sum makes no sense at all. These two rovers have taught us enormous amounts about our one of our nearest planetary neighbours, not to mention the lessons learned in the development and running of such advanced robotic explorers.

Now, I’m not an American so these aren’t my tax dollars, but surely the average American can see that there are some real problems with the way their money is being spent. The Iraq war has cost $505.5 billion and change so far and what has it got the American people apart from 4000 dead soldiers and nearly 30,000 wounded?

I appreciate that maybe your average Joe in the street doesn’t feel as strongly about space exploration as I do, but wouldn’t you rather your money was spent on advancing human knowledge than killing other people?