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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NASA Contracts

A contract is a funding mechanism that is used to acquire items, products, property or services for the federal government's direct benefit or use. NASA's Science Mission Directorate uses contracts to acquire data and scientific results from flight investigations (typically resulting from selection under an Announcement of Opportunity) as well as flight hardware, mission operation services, science centers, etc. Contracts may be awarded to universities and other private institutions, but not to federal installations (like NASA centers). The Jet Propulsion Lab is operated by Caltech under a contract with NASA. Contracts are issued by one of NASA's procurement offices.

NASA Grants

A grant is an award of financial assistance, the principle purpose of which is to transfer funding from a federal agency to a recipient to carry out a public purpose. NASA's Science Mission Directorate selects recipients for grant awards for the purpose of conducting research investigations and communicating broadly the knowledge gained. Grants may be awarded to universities and other private institutions, but not to NASA centers or a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) like JPL. Grants are issued by the NASA Shared Services center (NSSC).


A Research and Technology Operating Plan (RTOP) is an internal NASA funding mechanism that is used to assign funding to a NASA center for the purpose of carrying out a specific research task. An RTOP is what NASA's Science Mission Directorate uses instead of a grant to fund PI led research investigations at NASA Centers. NASA also uses RTOPs to apply funding to the JPL contract to carry out PI led research tasks at JPL. RTOPs are issued directly from NASA Headquarters to the recipient center or JPL.


Coming or having recently come into existence.

Near Earth Object (NEO)

Asteroids or comets whose orbit intersects Earth's orbit and which may therefore pose a collision danger. Due to their size and proximity, NEOs are also more easily accessible for spacecraft from Earth. In fact, some near-Earth asteroids can be reached with much less ΔV (change in velocity) than the Moon.




NASA Energy and Water cycle Study


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Notice of Intent: a short description of proposed research submitted via the NSPIRES web page in advance of a proposal submission. NOIs are not required, but are very useful to the program officer as assemble the review panel. NOI's are non-binding. Submitting one does not mean you will necessarily submit the proposal.


A star that suddenly increases its light output tremendously and then fades away to its former obscurity in a few months or years.



NASA Research Announcement


National Research Council


National Science Foundation


NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System. Web page listing areas of NASA research. Proposals are submitted here.


The NASA Shared Services Center - provides a variety of services to NASA; plays a key role in the disbursement of funds for research and analysis grants. This office is physically located at NASA's Stennis Space Center. In May 2006, the NASA Shared Services Center began issuing all new grants and cooperative agreements for the Science Mission Directorate. After a phase-in period, NSSC now issues all grants and cooperative agreements for the Agency including SMD and all 10 NASA Centers. Following receipt of a complete award package, including funding, a NSSC grant officer issues the award to the recipient organization. NSSC is also responsible for issuing annual funding continuations for multi-year awards (following receipt and approval of the annual progress report) and for closing out the award (following receipt and approval of the final report). The NSSC grants home page provides reference information on NASA grants. The status of all NSSC awarded NASA grants may be found using the grants status search.


The making of atoms more complex than the hydrogen atom, generated by nuclear fusion.


Numerical Weather Prediction