Brussels, 05 Sep 2005
The UK's Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) has issued a statement calling for continued growth in government funding for planetary sciences in order capitalise on recent missions such as Beagle 2 and Huygens.
The statement was drawn up by leading RAS fellows, led by Mike Hapgood of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. In addition to a call for sustained funding, the statement also draws attention to the multidisciplinary nature of Solar System studies, and stresses the need to maintain a broad range of expertise in the UK to maintain a world leading position in the field.
'This is an important time in the worldwide development of planetary science,' says Dr Hapgood. 'Our ability to study the Solar System is advancing rapidly - in particular through a greater ability to fly scientific instruments to other planets. The UK can make a leading contribution to the international development of planetary science, as demonstrated by the expertise developed in planetary landers, based on experience gained from Beagle 2 and, more recently, the highly successful Huygens mission.'
The statement also underlines the potential of planetary missions to engage the public with science and the attractiveness of planetary sciences to students. With regard to the latter in particular, the RAS encourages UK universities to review their strengths and weaknesses in this area and consider the establishment of planetary science departments to take advantage of student interest and research opportunities. To download a copy of the RAS statement, please: click here