astroengine writes: "It's a strange irony that to afford the expense of space exploration, international collaboration is often sought after — spreading the cost across several international partners means the biggest space missions may be accomplished. And yet in times of austerity, national budgets balk at the prospect of investing in international projects like ExoMars. Sadly, that's exactly what could be facing the ambitious ESA-led Mars rover/satellite mission if NASA's Science Mission Directorate budget is slashed in the next financial year. NASA may pull out of the project, leaving ExoMars with no rockets or a means to actually land on Mars. Could Russia help out? Possibly, but it will still lead to ESA taking on more cost than it has budgeted for."
Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy
based on excellence of performance. -- James Bryant Conant