According to an October 1, 2013 story in Gizmodo one casualty of the government shut down may be the NASA MAVEN probe due to be launched in the window between November 18 and December 7 2013. The $650 million robotic explorer is designed to enter Mars orbit and study that planet’s atmosphere.
The problem is that NASA and contractor employees working on the MAVEN project are considered “nonessential” for purposes of the government shutdown and thus have been sent home. If the shutdown lasts for more than a few days, the possibility exists that MAVEN will not be ready to be launched on time.
In that eventuality the MAVEN would be taken to storage until the next launch window opens in 2016. The scientific output of the probe would be reduced “significantly” because of the solar cycle, an unidentified NASA employee is quoted as saying.
Most of NASA, with the exception of Mission Control technicians who are monitoring the International Space Station, has been shuttered pending the resolution of the shutdown.