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FYI focuses on the programs and missions sponsored by the Science Mission Directorate, including in the Astrophysics, Planetary Science, Heliophysics, and Earth Science Divisions. FYI also covers science-related missions supported by other directorates, including the International Space Station.

28 Apr 2017

This week, the House Science Committee held a hearing to discuss new developments in the field of astrobiology, a favorite subject of Committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX). Committee members praised work in the field and agreed with the witnesses’ appraisal of its popular appeal and inherent importance.

9 Mar 2017

Following a failed attempt last year, Congress has passed the bipartisan “NASA Transition Authorization Act.” The bill, which emphasizes human space exploration, affirms existing NASA priorities. However, it leaves ambiguous policy concerning contentious issues such as NASA’s Earth science activities.

2 Mar 2017

Earlier this week, President Trump signed into law two bills that leverage existing programs at NASA and NSF to promote the advancement of women in STEM fields. Trump’s remarks at the signing constituted his first extemporaneous comments on science policy.

21 Feb 2017

At a hearing convened to discuss future directions for NASA, leaders of the House Science Committee stressed the need for continuity between administrations. Democratic members highlighted the agency’s earth science activities, which could be affected by a “rebalancing” the chairman intends to pursue.

24 Jan 2017

Among presidents, Barack Obama took an unusually strong interest in science and technology, and his administration pursued a wide array of S&T-related initiatives. However, early hopes for major expansions in R&D funding remained largely unfulfilled.

6 Jan 2017

The National Science and Technology Council has increased the pace of its report releases during the waning days of the Obama administration. Recent releases address national disaster preparedness and resilience, open access to federally supported research, Arctic research, and the use of alternatives to radioisotopic sources, among other policy priorities.

27 Dec 2016

In the final days of the 114th Congress, the Senate passed legislation to provide new policy guidance to NASA for the first time since 2010. But, by the time the bill arrived in the House, lawmakers had already left Washington for the year. While the original version of the bill introduced in September addressed NASA’s science activities only briefly, the final version contained a number of additional science-related provisions.

14 Dec 2016

Although no one on the president-elect’s transition team has been publicly identified as a lead point of contact for science issues broadly or at the agency level, a few members of the landing teams for agencies including the Department of Energy and NASA have backgrounds in science and/or science policy. 

3 Nov 2016

NSF is currently undertaking a formal process by which it will determine whether or not to divest from the Arecibo and Green Bank Observatories, with final decisions for each facility expected within the next year and a half.

27 Oct 2016

Last week, the White House announced a new initiative promoting public-private partnerships for the development and use of small satellites. The announcement comes as interest grows in using small satellites as platforms for scientific research.