Science Information Policy

The information produced as part of NASA’s scientific research activities represents a significant public investment. NASA holds this information, including publications, data, and software, as a public trust to increase knowledge and serve the public good. It is Science Mission Directorate (SMD) policy, consistent with NASA and Federal policies, that information produced from SMD-funded scientific research activities be made publicly available. 

SMD has released SPD-41a: Scientific Information Policy for the Science Mission Directorate to provide guidance on the open sharing of publications, data, and software created in the pursuit of scientific knowledge. The core values behind the development of the policy are to make SMD-funded research as open as possible, as restricted as required, and always secure.  

SPD-41a updates the previously released SPD-41, which consolidated existing Federal and NASA policy on sharing scientific information. The updates in SPD-41a policy are in response to new federal guidance on Ensuring Free, Immediate, and Equitable Access to Federally Funded Research, studies from the National Academies, and input from the SMD scientific community.  The SPD-41a change log provides a list of policy updates that have been made in SPD-41a. 

In November 2021, NASA issued a Request for Information (RFI) to solicit information from SMD communities on proposed updates to SPD-41. SMD has released a summary of the comments and responses from this RFI, which helped to inform the directorate on how to update its minimum requirements for openness and accessibility, as well as how to successfully implement the policy. 

SPD-41a is a forward-looking policy that will apply to new missions and grants starting with ROSES-2023. Existing missions and grants are not required to adopt the new guidance, but they are encouraged to do so if feasible with available resources. For new missions and grants starting with ROSES-2023, SPD-41a requires that: 

  • Peer-reviewed publications are made openly available with no embargo period.  
  • Research data and software are shared at the time of publication or the end of the funding award. 
  • Mission data are released as soon as possible and unrestricted mission software is developed openly.  
  • Science workshops and meetings are held openly to enable broad participation. 


The development and implementation of SPD-41a is one component of NASA’s Open-Source Science Initiative (OSSI), a comprehensive program of activities to enable and support a movement toward more accessible, inclusive, and reproducible scientific processes. The OSSI aims to implement SMD's Strategy for Data Management and Computing for Groundbreaking Science 2019-2024.  

SPD-41a was developed to minimize the burden on SMD-funded missions and researchers while moving science toward openness. In pursuit of this goal, the OSSI will provide additional guidance, training, and services to support researchers in implementing policy requirements. This includes: 


SMD will continue to work with the research community to identify additional types of support that are needed and to develop and improve existing resources. Please contact with any questions about these efforts or suggestions to improve the guidance provided around SPD-41a. 

The following resources provide further information about how to make NASA scientific information more accessible, including specific guidance from SMD Divisions:  


Town hall on SPD-41a - January 17, 2023


SPD-41a Request for Information Town hall from January 26, 2022


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