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Florida scientists reduced to holding bake sale to fund NASA

In an effort to rescue planetary science projects amid budget cuts, scientists in Florida are holding bake sales and car washes to sway legislators to protect NASA's budget.

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Other organizations planning to participate in the demonstrations include the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute in Mountain View, Calif.

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"The nation risks the loss of a generation of upcoming, talented engineers and researchers whose careers are centered on the exploration of our solar system in the quest for life beyond Earth," said astronomer Jill Tarter, the outgoing director of the Center for SETI Research.

NASA has a number of ongoing planetary science missions, including the Cassini orbiter around Saturn, the New Horizons spacecraft on its way to Pluto, and the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity, due to land on the Red Planet in August. The agency also has a number of missions under development, such as the OSIRIS-Rex asteroid sampling mission due to launch in 2016.

Yet the number and scope of projects NASA will be able to undertake in the future could be seriously hampered by the proposed cuts, scientists say.

For Central Florida residents: The planetary bake sale is planned for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. EDT Saturday at the Chevron adjacent to the University of Central Florida campus on 1640 E. McCulloch Road in Orlando.

Follow Clara Moskowitz on Twitter @ClaraMoskowitz or @Spacedotcom. We're also onFacebook & Google+

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