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Will election results affect NASA funding?

Predictions say NASA funding is unlikely to rise under either a Democratic or Republican president. However, NASA's priorities under Obama or Romney might be different.  

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Krauss is a founding board member of Science Debate 2012, a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that attempts to get political candidates to discuss science and science policy.

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Some differences

All this isn't to say that America's space future would be identical under Romney and Obama. Obama is more likely to support pure science missions, Krauss said, especially Earth-observation efforts that could help diagnose the effects of climate change.

"The Obama Administration has consistently understood the science, especially regarding Earth monitoring, more than the Republicans," Krauss told SPACE.com.

It's also possible — perhaps even likely — that a President Romney would ask NASA to refocus its near-term manned spaceflight activities away from asteroids and back to the moon.

Getting humans back to the moon was NASA's goal under the Bush-era Constellation program, which aimed to put more bootprints in the lunar dirt by 2020. But Obama cancelled Constellation after a review panel found the program to be significantly overbudget, underfunded and behind schedule.

Pace and Griffin have been enthusiastic about the moon as a destination for human exploration, so they may help counsel Romney in that direction.

"You could reason by past priorities that they'd give increased emphasis to the moon as opposed to asteroids," Logsdon said. "But beyond that I don't think you can say a whole lot."

But such a shift may not be too jarring for NASA, as the agency is already thinking about a manned moon mission now under President Obama using the SLS and Orion.

"We just recently delivered a comprehensive report to Congress outlining our destinations, which makes clear that SLS will go way beyond low-Earth orbit to explore the expansive space around the Earth-moon system, near-Earth asteroids, the moon, and ultimately, Mars," NASA deputy chief Lori Garver said at a conference in September.

"Let me say that again: We're going back to the moon, attempting a first-ever mission to send humans to an asteroid and actively developing a plan to take Americans to Mars," Garver added.

Follow SPACE.com senior writer Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall or SPACE.com @Spacedotcom. We're also on Facebook and Google+

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