House to Downsize Solar System

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A Press Release

Bob Haberle reporting.


WASHINGTON D.C. The House Appropriations subcommittee on NASA
oversight, in another effort to reduce the NASA budget, passed a
resolution today to downsize the solar system. According to an
unnamed congressional staffer, House Republicans felt there has
been "too much redundancy in the solar system" and that
streamlining the 4.5 billion year old planetary system is long
overdue. Such action would give NASA fewer places to go and this
would allow the agency to carry out its space exploration goals
within the funding profile that the House proposed earlier this
summer.


"Look, we have three terrestrial planets" said Congressman Rip
U. Apart (R, Del.), "and only one of them really works! So why not
get rid of the other two and clean up the neighborhood?" Most
subcommittee members felt that while downsizing was definitely in

the cards, eliminating both Mars and Venus was going too far. "We
have too many international commitments to Mars." said Rush N.
Hater (R, Calif.). "So I think we should keep Mars and dump Venus.
Its too hot to live on, and liberal Democrats keep using it as an
example of what global warming can do. So from a political and
practical point of view, Venus has got to go."


Also at risk is the planet Mercury which lacks support because
of its small size and poor visibility from Earth. "Who needs it?"
asked Congressman Newt Onian (R, N.C.). "Have you ever seen it? I
haven't. So what good is it? We just don't need useless planets.
And speaking of useless planets, what about the asteroids? If
you've seen one, you've seen them all. So I say we ought to get rid
of the little boogers once and for all."


However, the downsizing recommendations do not stop with the
terrestrial planets. The resolution also calls for a reduction in
the number of gas giants which contain most of the planetary mass
in the solar system. Most subcommittee members favor retaining
Jupiter and Saturn, and eliminating Uranus and Neptune. "Jupiter
employs the most molecules, and Saturn has those pretty little
rings everyone likes." said Rep. Con Mann (R, Fla.). "On the other
hand, Uranus is a bore and its rings are dirty. And Neptune, for
God's sake, is just too far away. So begone with those ugly
bruisers."


But the influential Wright I.M. Fornow from South Carolina has
publicly announced he will fight to eliminate Saturn. Fornow is
especially miffed by NASA's success thus far in keeping Cassini,
the next mission to Saturn, alive which he feels is waste of
taxpayers money. "If there ain't no Saturn, then there ain't no
Cassini" he exclaimed. The congressman also expressed concern about
sending back-to-back spacecraft bearing Italian surnames to the
outer planets (The Galileo spacecraft arrives at Jupiter this
December).


The subcommittee was unanimous in its views towards Pluto which
they deemed a moral misfit. "Now here's a planet we can definitely
do without." continued Fornow. "A few years ago, it was farthest
from the sun. Now its not. Its just too confusing. And now they
tell me its really two planets instead of one. What the hell is
going on here?"


The resolution must now be presented to the entire House, where
it is expected to pass easily since only a minority of
Representatives have constituents on the affected planets. NASA
Administrator Golden has vowed to resist any further reductions to
the solar system, saying that "NASA has expended considerable
effort to make the planets cheaper, faster, and better. Much of
this work would be wasted if the solar system were downsized"
stated Golden.


Critics say, however, that reducing the number of planets will
not produce the expected savings to taxpayers. Textbooks, they
note, would have to be revised to reflect the new arrangement, and
facilities would need to be constructed to remove the planets
themselves. The resolution is also likely to draw strong opposition
from religious fundamentalists who have long opposed the
elimination of any of the biblical planets. Thus, the matter is far
from resolved.


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