Minutes after receiving word that the New Horizons spacecraft had survived its historic encounter with Pluto last week, someone in the crowd at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel asked mission leaders what's next.
Alan Stern, the principal investigator, answered: to explore other bodies at the edge of the solar system, "and to get funded to do exactly that."
John Grunsfeld, head of NASA's science branch and Stern's boss, responded: "To go where no New Horizons spacecraft has gone before."
But he conspicuously dodged addressing the mission budget.
The uncomfortable exchange underscored the uncertainty scientists face as...