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The most significant aspect of this authorization is what is not in it. The bill outlines what Congress wants NASA to focus on, and makes literally no mention of any Earth science research at all. Essentially, it tasks NASA to focus on space exploration, and space exploration only.
In many ways this is merely a symbolic act, since it is the budget that really determines what NASA will do, and the budget that Trump put forth last week only cut NASA’s Earth science budget by 5%. Nonetheless, the authorization bill gives us a sense of where the politics are heading. I expect that by the time Congress gets done with NASA’s budget there will be more cuts to that Earth science budget.