Science and Exploration

Revised Scientific Information Policy for the NASA Science Mission Directorate

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
December 9, 2022
Filed under ,
Revised Scientific Information Policy for the NASA Science Mission Directorate

The NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) announces a revised Scientific Information Policy SMD Policy Document (SPD-41a). The policy defines SMD’s commitment to sharing scientific information produced from NASA’s missions and research through Open Science practices. 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.

Further details:

The data, software, and publications resulting from NASA funded activities, regardless of award type, e.g., grant, contract, inter-or intra-agency agreements, represent a significant public investment. NASA holds this information as a public trust to increase knowledge and serve the public good. It is the Science Mission Directorate’s (SMD) policy, consistent with NASA and Federal policy, that information produced from SMD-funded scientific activities be made publicly available to the greatest practical extent.

To provide contextual guidance to proposers, awardees, and other members of our communities, SMD has developed SPD-41a: Scientific Information Policy for the Science Mission Directorate. The core values behind the policy are to make SMD-funded research as open as possible, 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 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. In November 2021, NASA issued a Request for Information (RFI) to solicit information from SMD communities on proposed updates to SPD-41. The responses to this RFI helped to inform SMD on how to update its minimum requirements for openness and accessibility, as well as how to successfully implement the policy. SMD will published a summary of the comments and responses to the RFI on the SMD’s Scientific Information Policy website.

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.

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. Links to these resources are available on SMD’s Scientific Information Policy website, which will be updated as SMD identifies additional actions needed to support the research community in implementing SPD-41a. Resources include an Open-Source Science Guidance document, answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ), open science curriculum being developed by NASA’s Transform to OPen Science (TOPS) program, and links to additional policies and guidance developed by SMD divisions to provide specific guidance for their communities. 

A virtual community townhall on SMD’s Scientific Information Policy will be held on January 17, 2023, 1:00-2:00 pm ET to provide additional information on SPD-41a and to address questions and comments from the community. Additional townhalls will be held at the OSSI session at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting on December 14, 2022 at 6:30-7:30 pm ET, at the 241st Meeting of the American Astronomical Society on January 10 at 12:45 PM – 1:45 PM PT, and at the 2023 American Meteorological Society meeting on January 10 at 7:00 – 8:15 AM MT.

Please contact with any questions about SPD-41a. All questions will be responded to, either individually or on the Scientific Information Policy FAQ page.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.