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NASA

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.

20 Apr 2018

By the narrowest margin in the history of the space agency, the Senate confirmed Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) as NASA administrator yesterday on a party-line vote of 50 to 49. The other chamber of Congress also made NASA news this week, with the House Science Committee advancing a NASA reauthorization bill after a contentious debate over funding recommendations for its Earth Science Division.

30 Mar 2018

Final spending legislation for fiscal year 2018 increases NASA’s Science Mission Directorate budget by 8 percent to $6.2 billion. The new funding will mainly benefit the Planetary Science Division, which is directed to ramp up two missions to Jupiter’s moon Europa. The Heliophysics and Astrophysics Divisions are receiving smaller increases, while the Earth Science Division’s budget remains steady.

14 Mar 2018

NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot testified before the House Science Committee that the agency is looking into alternate ways to obtain the astrophysics data the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope mission would have provided. However, he has since emphasized that the mission cancellation is only a proposal.

15 Feb 2018

The Trump administration’s fiscal year 2019 budget request for NASA refocuses the agency on its exploration mission. Science funding would increase under the request, but NASA would cancel its flagship Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope and pare back its Earth Science portfolio. The Planetary Science Division would see a 22 percent budget increase and is slated to oversee a new Lunar Discovery and Exploration research program.

19 Jan 2018

The second Decadal Survey for Earth Science and Applications from Space, finalized in early January, calls on NASA's Earth Science Division to prioritize its missions based on a tiered program of target observations. It also provides recommendations for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Geological Survey.

14 Dec 2017

A recent House Science Committee hearing on NASA’s in-development and future space telescopes probed the agency’s mission management practices and revealed substantial concerns that the James Webb Space Telescope may experience new schedule delays. NASA announced at the hearing it is planning an independent review of the mission’s pre-launch preparations.

7 Nov 2017

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), the nominee for NASA administrator, cast himself as a consensus builder during a contentious confirmation hearing on Nov. 1. While receiving unanimous support from Republicans, Democrats portrayed him as insufficiently qualified and too politically divisive to lead the agency.

3 Nov 2017

Mike Griffin has been selected to become the first under secretary of defense for research and engineering since 1986. Griffin was NASA administrator from 2005 to 2009 and has extensive experience in government and private industry. If confirmed, he will be tasked with instilling the Defense Department’s science and technology activities with a more innovative, risk-tolerant culture.

19 Oct 2017

Scientists are hailing the observation of gravitational waves and electromagnetic radiation from a collision of two neutron stars as marking a new era of multi-messenger astrophysics. It is a field of research enabled by expansive international collaboration between facilities of all sizes, and its first success is likely to lead to the further development of its infrastructure.

11 Oct 2017

At a hearing last week, members of the House Science Committee heard testimony about the status of domestic plutonium-238 supplies, an essential fuel for many robotic science missions. A Government Accountability Office report released at the same time recommends that the Department of Energy improve its long-term planning for producing Pu-238 and associated power systems.

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