The Astrobiology Program budget is designed to afford the flexibility necessary to respond to the dynamic, fast-changing discipline of astrobiology and NASA’s readiness for developing missions in the search for life. The Astrobiology Program’s annual budget is approximately $65 million. This budget is used to fund research proposals selected from Research & Analysis programs, (e.g. Exobiology, Habitable Worlds, etc.) and associated research activities (e.g. workshops). It is a common practice among funding agencies, when presented with meritorious proposals and a programmatic priority exceeding the planned budget, to seek funding from other sources or to adjust the focus of their funding to achieve agency strategic goals. Additionally, funding allocations can be adjusted to accommodate changes in program priorities linked to programmatic needs, or in response to emerging topics or fields.
The Astrobiology Program has developed transient research opportunities to address specific technological or research topics. For example, NASA in collaboration with NSF released LExEn to solicit proposals on the topic of Life in Extreme Environment. The Astrobiology Program also partnered with NSF and KnowInnovation to use an alternative solicitation and review mechanism to encourage high risk, high reward proposals in the area of the origin of translation, a heretofore recalcitrant topic that unifies a central dogma in biology.
More recently, the Astrobiology Program has allocated increasing funds for research in the emerging field of exoplanets system science in order to support the study of habitability and life detection on exoplanets. This resulted in the selection of 5 teams from recent NASA Astrobiology Institute Cooperative Agreement Notices (CANs) along with 13 teams funded from Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES) solicitations in PSD and APD, to become part of the first Research Coordination Network, NExSS. Adjustments in Astrobiology Program funding priorities, in this case to provide administrative support for this RCN, are managed by the Senior Scientist for Astrobiology, Mary Voytek, with concurrence by the Planetary Research & Analysis Lead, Stephen Rinehart, and the Planetary Science Division Director, Lori Glaze.