The Science Mission Directorate (SMD) organizes its work into four broad scientific pursuits: Earth Science, Planetary Science, Heliophysics and Astrophysics. Each of these pursuits is managed by a Division within the Directorate, each having it's own science sub-goals.
- Earth Science: Study planet Earth from space to advance scientific understanding and meet societal needs
- Planetary Science: Advance scientific knowledge of the origin and history of the solar system, the potential for life elsewhere, and the hazards and resources present as humans explore space
- Heliophysics: Understand the Sun and its effects on Earth and the solar system
- Astrophysics: Discover the origin, structure, evolution, and destiny of the universe, and search for Earth-like planets
- Resources Management: Formulate, advocate, and implement the SMD budget for the Directorate.
- Strategic Integration & Management: Provide policy support and conduct business operations for the Directorate.
Fundamental research on profound science questions using space-based observatories and related assets is the hallmark of all four areas of NASA's SMD. Astrophysics pursues answers to questions about the universe that are as old as humanity. Heliophysics and Planetary Science both include elements important to the success of NASA"s human exploration endeavors, and the former has practical utility on Earth. Earth Science is inherently beneficial to society in practical ways and requires that means be created to transfer its results for use in decision support and policy making. Research in all four science areas is essential to the fulfillment of national priorities embodied in Presidential initiatives and Congressional legislation, and scientific priorities identified by the Nations' scientific community. The SMD Division Directors play a significant role in support of NASA Scientists both at Headquarters and at NASA centers, universities, institutes and partner agencies the world over.
Sept. 12, 2007
Michael H. Freilich received BS degrees in Physics (Honors) and Chemistry from Haverford College in 1975 and a Ph.D. in Oceanography from Scripps Institution of Oceanography (Univ. of CA., San Diego) in 1982. Dr. Freilich is now the Director of the Earth Science Division.
Sept. 12, 2007
Dr. Green received his Ph.D. in Space Physics from the University of Iowa in 1979 and began working in the Magnetospheric Physics Branch at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in 1980. In August 2006, Dr. Green became the Director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters.
Jan. 6, 2012
Paul Hertz was named Director of the Astrophysics Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA in March 2012. He is responsible for the Agency's research programs and missions necessary to discover how the universe works, explore how the universe began and developed into its present form, and search for Earth-like planets.
Feb. 27, 2014
Steven W. Clarke is the Director of the Joint Agency Satellite Division (JASD), He is responsible for managing reimbursable satellite and instrument development activities performed by NASA for partner agencies.
Feb. 3, 2011
Craig Tupper is the Director of the Resources Management Division (RMD), responsible for formulation, justification, and execution of NASA’s approximately $5 billion annual Science budget.
Jan. 11, 2016
In 2015, Ms. Sandra E. Smalley was appointed the Director of the Joint Agency Satellite Division (JASD) in the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) at NASA Headquarters. She is responsible for managing reimbursable satellite, instrument and ground system development activities performed by NASA for partner agencies.
April 5, 2010
Dan Woods is the Division Director for the Strategic Integration and Management Division (SI&MD), responsible for the Directorate’s strategic planning and messaging, science advisory committee, congressional, and executive activities. He is also responsible for the administrative support provided to Directorate employees.