The markup came on 9 June 1994. The information was spread among the Mars scientific community on 10 June 1994. The committee gave Mars Surveyor the full funding requested by NASA. The budget also includes the full requested funding for two other key NASA science programs, the Cassini Saturn mission and the AXAF x-ray observatory.
The fact that Mars Surveyor received full funding in the House Appropriations Subcommittee has been directly attributed to the strong public support for continued Mars exploration. "What swung it, apparently, was the strong support that they heard from the science community, teachers, students, and the general public," said Professor Steve Squyres of Cornell University.
Regarding the mail received by Congress about Mars Surveyor, Jeff Moersch, a graduate student at Cornell University whose research is on infrared and gamma ray spectroscopy of Mars, said, "To give you all a calibrator for what constitutes a large response on an issue like this, one House staffer on the Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee (not the appropriations subcommittee) said she was amazed at the amount of letters their office had received - they got a grand total of ten. It seems that on a low-budget item like Surveyor, anything more than half a dozen letters is considered a big response."
The House markup on NASA's FY 1995 budget is apparently less than that requested by President Clinton. The White House and NASA are seeking 14.24 billion dollars (down from FY 1994 levels), the House apparently recommended a budget of 14.00 billion. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee has been suggesting that their budget might come in as low as 13.7 billion, potentially forcing cuts in existing NASA programs such as the Space Station, Cassini mission, AXAF, and the Space Shuttle program.
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies, chaired by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) will do its markup in mid-July.
The final NASA 1995 budget probably will not be approved until late September or early October. Fiscal Year 1995 begins on 1 October 1994.
Disclaimer: I am learning this process as it unfolds. In the near future, I will include further information about the Federal budget process that might illuminate what is happening with Mars Surveyor. Mars Surveyor can then be used in the classroom as an example of how a small budget item makes its way through Congress. This is an excellent example of the cross-disciplinary nature of science today. -- K. Edgett