The goals of the NASA RCN and the NSF RCN are quite similar, but serve different purposes. The stated goal of the NSF RCN program is to:

“…advance a field or create new directions in research or education by supporting groups of investigators to communicate and coordinate their research, training and educational activities across disciplinary, organizational, geographic and international boundaries. The RCN program provides opportunities to foster new collaborations, including international partnerships, and address interdisciplinary topics. Innovative ideas for implementing novel networking strategies, collaborative technologies, training, broadening participation, and development of community standards for data and meta-data are especially encouraged. RCN awards also do not support primary research. Rather, the RCN program supports the means by which investigators can share information and ideas, coordinate ongoing or planned research activities, foster synthesis and new collaborations, develop community standards, and in other ways advance science and education through communication and sharing of ideas.”

NSF RCN program provides funding to researchers who submit proposals for how they would like to “coordinate” the community. NSF RCNs are relatively short term, one to two years, and focused on specific activities that are fully described in the submitted proposal.

In contrast, NASA RCNs are intended to coordinate the agency’s research investments to best accomplish the agency’s goals. The NASA RCN is designed to be more dynamic and responsive than the NSF RCN model as the goals and priority of the agency changes. The membership in the NASA RCNs will not require proposals detailing how they will coordinate the community. All of the members of the NASA RCN are funded independently of their participation in the RCN. PI co-leads can request funding to offset the administrative burden associated with RCN leadership. Astrobiology RCN co-leads and steering committees will determine how to coordinate activities within their network. Separate funding is available to support these activities as needed.

Astrobiology FAQ