July 22, 2016

Washington’s Week in Science

Policy News and Selected Funding Opportunities

Top Stories of the Week

  • NSF: Lead Role in Advanced Wireless Research Initiative Outlined
  • NASA: Heliophysics Explorer Opportunity Announced
  • Climate Change: Global Temperature On Track for a Record
  • Elections: Republican Campaign Platform Unveiled


On July 15, the White House announced a new initiative for Advanced Wireless Research intended to result in super-fast, ultra-low latency, high-capacity networks which are up to 100 times faster than what is available today.  The announcement cited a lead role by the NSF in investing up to $400 million over the next 7 years in academic research that can utilize advanced wireless testing platforms developed by private-public partnerships.

The NSF has announced the establishment of a Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR) Project Office to manage the development of these platforms and carry out fundamental research on communications technologies, networking architectures and new applications. A webinar providing additional information is scheduled for July 28.

Read More: Tech Crunch


Heliophysics explorer missions are principal investigator (PI) led missions that provide frequent flight opportunities for the heliophysics community.  NASA has released three solicitations for explorers; a Small Explorer class mission; Stand Alone Missions of Opportunity; and, a solicitation for a US participating investigator in a non-NASA mission.  The cost cap for the Explorer mission is now set at $165M in FY 2017 dollars, including access to space, but not including any contributions. The sum of contributions of any kind to the entirety of the investigation is limited to one-third (1/3) of the proposed mission cost.  Final proposals are due October 14.

Read More: Planetary News

Climate Change

Both NASA and NOAA have reported that 2016 is on track to break the record set in 2015.  The combination of El Nino and anthropogenic influences have resulted in increases of 1.3 degrees Celsius, or 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit, above the baseline when global temperature records began.  This increase approaches the limit of 1.5 degree increase agreed to in Paris last year as a long term goal for limiting global warming.  One consequence of this year’s warming trend is a record low Arctic ice mass since satellite records have been available.  The Arctic sea ice mass was more than 11% below its average extent.  The Antarctic sea ice was also diminished, the 13th smallest on record.

Read More: New York Times ,  AP


As part of the GOP convention in Cleveland, the 2016 Republican Platform was released.  It differs from the 2012 platform in several ways.  Whereas the 2012 platform contained an expansive and ambitious set of goals for NASA space science, medical research, and workforce development, the 2016 platform is more limited in terms of specificity, but implies a number of policy changes.

For NASA, it focuses on the emerging private sector space program and the need to nurture free-market entrepreneurship. Retaining a feature of the 2012 platform, it also advocates launching more scientific missions as an element of overall competitiveness and innovation.

It takes aim at “bogus science” and “scare tactics” resulting in excessive environmental regulation, barring US agricultural product exports, and impediments to energy independence.

Finally, it aims to appeal to the tech community by promoting greater wireless development and broadband access. However, it abandons the 2012 platform advocacy for increasing the flow of foreign work visas for highly educated immigrants, a policy sought by Silicon Valley.

Read More: Morning Consult


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