NASA’s upcoming $17.5 billion request for funds in fiscal 2015 will include a request for “pre-formulation” work on missions to exploit recently discovered water geysers over the south pole of Europa and sophisticated techniques to gauge the effects of dark energy on the observable Universe, along with stay-the-course spending on continuing major programs.

Internal NASA budget documents indicate space science would get almost $5 billion under the new budget to continue work on the James Webb Space Telescope and a Curiosity-based Mars rover to launch in 2020. But it includes some funding for a Europa mission spurred by the possibility that water found high in space over Europa’s south pole could give an unexpectedly quick look at the makeup of the Jovian moon’s subsurface ocean with a spacecraft designed to fly through it.

Also slated for “pre-formulation” study is the proposed Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope/Astrophysics Focused Telescope Asset mission, which would use gravitational lensing and other advanced techniques to study dark energy, and to continue the search for exoplanets in our Milky Way galaxy by monitoring a large star sample in the galaxy’s center for the faint dimming caused by intervening solar systems. Like the Webb telescope, the proposed mission would be managed by Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and is likely to enjoy support from Senate Appropriations Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.).

The request seeks $7.9 billion for human exploration, divided roughly 50-50 between operations, including funds required next year for an extension of the International Space Station to 2024, and exploration technology including the heavy-lift Space Launch System and Orion crew capsule. Development of commercial crew delivery to the ISS would be supported at a level permitting certification by 2017.

Open-ended space technology research would get $706 million, including funds for more work on advanced solar electric propulsion and non-toxic “green” spacecraft propellant. Aeronautics would get $551 million, while education would receive $89 million. The request also includes $3.2 billion for cross-agency support, construction and environmental remediation.