The dwindling pot pits astronomers against each other

At first glance at this story I think ‘Great. Another achievement for ESA’

JUpiter ICy moon Explorer mcateer JUICY

but then the flip side reveals itself as

the Advanced Telescope for High Energy Astrophysics mcateer ATHENA

organizes a preemptive strike against a possible forthcoming rejection. At 2 euro per person per year ESA basically is struggling on a shoestring. It is having to make impossible scientific judgement calls on comparing a mission to Jupiter’s moon to X-ray cosmology. It’s like pitting apples and oranges in a fight to see who is ‘most fruity’. And so the decision, although supposedly based on science, often turns to be based on history, politics, and supposed technology readiness level.

Astronomers are left fighting amongst themselves for 2-euro scraps off the table. Economies are bad, money is tight, but is asking for another couple of Euro per person really that bad? After all, UK alone spends 50 billion euro (38 billion pounds) per year in military – 1000 euro per UK taxpayer. And we just ‘awarded’ over 120 billions euros (100 billion pounds) to the banks – 2000 euro per taxpayer.

For less than the price of a morning coffee Europe could have a space agency to be proud of, with missions surpassing all other nations – even NASA.