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NASA: More sought to monitor global warming

Available details of President Barack Obama’s proposed government spending for the 2010 budget year that begins on Oct. 1. A more extensive budget outline is expected in April. In most cases, the figures are for discretionary spending and do not include mandatory entitlement programs like Social Security. The percentage change is based on what Obama wants to spend next year compared with what he anticipates the government will spend in 2009 once Congress completes appropriations for this year.

Agency: NASA

2010 proposal: $18.7 billion

Change from 2009 estimate: 5.1 percent increase

Highlights: The Obama administration would continue plans to retire space shuttles in 2010 and use the savings to return astronauts to the moon by 2020.

Obama’s budget proposal basically continued the Bush administration plan for space policy, but would shift more resources to monitor global warming.

There had been speculation that Obama would change the space plan because it relies on Russian help for five years to transport Americans into orbit, but he didn’t.

Much of the money for a new spaceship comes from retiring the shuttle fleet. Obama would continue that plan but add one more shuttle flight in 2010, something he promised in Florida on the campaign trail.

The story was different it came to NASA efforts focused on Earth instead of space. In 2006, NASA quietly removed the phrase “to understand and protect our home planet” from its mission statement and the agency was accused of ignoring Earth sciences. The first highlight that Obama listed in his NASA budget was about global warming.

The Obama administration promised to beef up satellites to monitor climate change and conduct other scientific research on the issue, though the document provided few specific numbers. Much of the world’s climate data is from ground sensors, with gaps over the ocean and in poorer countries.

By using satellites to get vital data from the entire planet, scientists hope to improve their understanding of global warming and its effects and to better predict the future climate.

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