A new poll finds that the American public broadly supports NASA but thinks the space agency should be focused more on Earth science and planetary defense than human missions to the moon or Mars.
In his first congressional testimony since becoming NASA administrator a month ago, Jim Bridenstine sought to reassure Senate appropriators about the status of several agency programs threatened with cancellation, as well as his own views on climate change.
As House appropriators approved a spending bill May 17 that partially restores funding for a NASA astrophysics mission slated for cancellation, the agency’s administrator said he was “90 percent” confident that the mission will continue.
The Earth, and particularly its climate, is changing. Earth science, therefore, is also changing. And, with those changes, come revisions on not just the missions needed to carry out the science, but how they should be selected.
NASA plans to begin awarding sole source contracts in March to companies flying small satellite constellations as part of an Earth science data pilot program.
A report setting priorities for the next decade of Earth science missions recommends that NASA pursue a mix of large and small missions to help better understand the changing nature of the planet.
Ten years after the National Academies published the first Earth science decadal survey, NASA has flown one of the 15 recommended missions with two more scheduled to launch in 2018.
NASA expects to purchase Earth science data from constellations of commercial satellites early next year to see how useful they are in meeting the agency’s research needs.
The new decadal survey for Earth science research will likely be unveiled in early January, slightly later than previously planned.
An aging German-American Earth science mission will come to an end this fall, months before the launch of a next-generation satellite pair.
An appropriations bill approved by a Senate committee July 27 would restore funding for several NASA Earth science missions slated for termination by the administration as well as a satellite servicing program.
As Senate appropriators prepare to mark up a NASA spending bill, agency officials are both downplaying the effects of proposed cuts on its Earth science program while also hoping the Senate reverses them.
As members of Congress took credit for NASA funding levels in a fiscal year 2017 omnibus spending bill, the agency’s science leadership is examining how those funds will affect its programs.