Science and Space Policy

When you have people, you have politics. So science — which is done by people — involves politics, too. Whether it be trying to balance funds between astrophysics and planetary science in NASA’s budget or deciding how to fund observatories and telescopes in our nation and around the world, policy matters in science. Here, you’ll find our coverage of the major policy matters that are affecting astronomy. We’ll break down the numbers and the policy lingo, so you can know what’s going on.

Curioisty's RAD instrument

Radiation Risks for Future Marsonauts

Thanks to a detector carried across interplanetary space aboard NASA's Curiosity rover, researchers now have a much clearer idea of radiation exposure that future astronauts will endure when traveling to and from Mars.

NASA's asteroid-retrieval concept

NASA to Snag a Near-Earth Asteroid

Not content to let private companies have all the fun in asteroid exploration and exploitation, NASA managers have proposed a high-flying mission that would capture a small asteroid and dispatch astronauts to study it — all within the next decade.

Heliophysics missions

Charting a Course for Heliophysics

A new report by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences examines how studies of the Sun and its influence on Earth have advanced in the past decade and makes recommendations for what should be tackled next.

Sentinel spacecraft in orbit

B612 Debuts Its Asteroid-Seeking Sentinel

Astronomers warn that it's not a question of "if" Earth will be hit by an asteroid, but "when." If a private group of space veterans has its way, a Sun-orbiting spacecraft will find threatening objects decades before they can strike us.

Apophis in 2029

If An Impact Looms, Then What?

A group of scientists, policy-makers, and science journalists recently tackled the tough who-where-how-and-why questions that will have to be answered if astronomers discover an asteroid or comet on a collision course with Earth.

Apophis in 2029

New Report Spotlights Impact Hazards

A meaty review of the impact hazard facing Earth has just been released by the U.S. National Research Council. The bottom line? If Congress and NASA are serious about finding all the truly threatening asteroids in our planet's vicinity, they'd better fund the search properly.