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NASA Science: Exploring Near and Far for the Benefit of All

NASA's Science Mission Directorate conducts scientific exploration that is enabled by access to space. We project humankind's vantage point into space with observatories in Earth orbit and deep space, spacecraft visiting the Moon and other planetary bodies, and robotic landers, rovers, and sample return missions.

From space, in space, and about space, NASA's science vision encompasses questions as practical as hurricane formation, as enticing as the prospect of lunar resources, and as profound as the origin of the Universe.

To ensure the success of the space program through generations to come, we must have simple, but compelling, long-term goals and coherent, thoughtful plans to achieve them.

Science Area

Big Questions

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Earth Science

NASA's Earth missions study our planet from space to advance scientific understanding. The big questions for Earth science are: How is the global Earth system changing? What are the primary forcings of the Earth system? How does the Earth system respond to natural and human-induced changes? What are the consequences of change in the Earth system for human civilization? And how will the Earth system change in the future? Earth Science Missions

NASA Global Climate Change


NASA Heliophysics missions study our star -- the Sun -- and how it affects Earth and the rest of our solar system. The big questions in solar science are: What causes the Sun to vary? How do the Earth and heliosphere respond? And what are the impacts on humanity? Heliophysics Missions

NASA Heliophysics

Planetary Science

NASA solar system exploration missions advance scientific understanding of our galactic neighborhood, the potential for life beyond Earth and the resources and hazards present as humans explore space. The big questions for planetary scientists are: How did the Sun's family of planets and minor bodies originate? How did the solar system evolve to its current diverse state? How did life begin and evolve on Earth, and has it evolved elsewhere in the solar system? And what are the characteristics of the solar system that lead to the origins of life? Planetary Science Missions

SMD Planetary Science

NASA Solar System Exploration


NASA Astrophysics missions are discovering the origin, structure, evolution and destiny of the Universe, and searching for Earth-like planets in other solar systems. The big questions for astrophysicists are: What is the origin, evolution and fate of the Universe? How do planets, stars, galaxies and cosmic structure come into being? When and how did the elements of life in the Universe arise? And is there life elsewhere? Astrophysics Missions
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Last Updated: 21 Mar 2011