NASA Cuts Funding to Popular VERITAS Program

Scientists have long campaigned for funding to explore Venus closer. Within the next few years, work on NASA's VERITAS program was set to begin in earnest, effectively launching one of the most exhaustive explorations of our planetary neighbor. Now, NASA has nearly cut all funding for the project, thrusting the future of the program into purgatory. More frustrating to those involved in the program, perhaps, is the fact that VERITAS was both on track and on budget to meet deadlines, and was still sent to the chopping block in favor of those programs over budget.

"This mission that was on track is being effectively martyred for all those missions that are going over budget," VERITAS principal investigator Suzanne Smrekar said during a NASA briefing earlier this month (via "It is a much more complicated and dire situation than the community realizes."

VERITAS is an acronym for The Venus Emissivity, wRadio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy mission, and was going to be one of three major missions kicking off within the next few years as scientists place an increased focus on exploring Venus.

The 2024 budget now includes for NASA includes a $1.5 million allocation for the VERITAS program, a massive decrease from the $56.7 million NASA officials previously projected the cost of the program to cost. Still, some NASA officials say it's not a matter of budgeting, but workforce restraints in other programs VERITAS is heavily dependent on.

"The Psyche Independent Review Board report cites a lack of staffing resources at JPL to support its current portfolio of missions across the laboratory," NASA spokesperson Karen Fox said in a statement obtained by The Verge. "As a planetary mission still in its early formulation phase, NASA decided to delay VERITAS for a launch no earlier than 2031."

The spokesperson went on to add that funding would be restarted in 2024 if the JPL managed to pass a workforce assessment. As it stands now, the two other Venus-based missions for NASA are still on. DAVINCI will provide scientists a glimpse of the Venusian atmosphere while EnVision will aim to survey upwards a quarter of the planet's surface.

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