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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.

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.

4 Oct 2017

Last week, five representatives from the scientific community testified at a House Science Committee hearing on the August total eclipse, discussing eclipse-enabled research opportunities, future capabilities in heliophysics, and solar weather research and preparedness. They also spoke about the expansive public engagement efforts associated with the event.

7 Sep 2017

President Trump has nominated Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to be NASA administrator. The former Navy aviator and three-term congressman has recently promoted an ambitious vision for space policy reform that would shift NASA’s focus away from scientific research in favor of human space exploration and the development of space-based infrastructure.

29 Aug 2017

A new National Academies report details the role that NASA’s large strategic missions play in the agency’s science portfolio. It recommends that decadal surveys better address the choices NASA faces in planning the missions and that NASA provide more public information about the missions' costs, management, and outputs.

3 Aug 2017

The House appropriations bill for NASA would raise the Science Mission Directorate’s $5.77 billion budget by 2 percent, while the Senate bill would cut it by 3 percent. As in previous years, the appropriations committees take opposing stances on funding for the Earth Science and Planetary Science Divisions.

31 Jul 2017

The Senate Appropriations Committee has advanced a bill that would cut the topline budgets of NASA, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, by 1 to 2 percent each.