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.

Asteroids in the inner solar system

Do We Need “Asteroid Day”?

Are we really doing enough to find asteroids, especially the smaller ones that could destroy a city? A private initiative urges a rapid ramp-up of the search effort — but not everyone agrees.

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.

Planetary Resources' Arkyd 101 spacecraft

Asteroid Mining for Fun and Profit

A cadre of space entrepreneurs has hatched a plan to identify thousands of small near-Earth asteroids — and then to exploit the mineral wealth that many of these space rocks are certain to contain.

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.