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NPD 7100.10F
Effective Date: May 26, 2016
Expiration Date: May 26, 2021
Printable Format (PDF)

(NASA Only)

Subject: Curation of Institutional Scientific Collections

Responsible Office: Office of the Chief Scientist


a. It is NASA's policy to provide for the curation of NASA's institutional scientific collections as a set of physical specimens, living or inanimate, created for the purpose of supporting science and serving as a long-term research asset, and, as appropriate and feasible, the associated specimen data and materials. The materials in NASA's scientific collections represent a unique and limited national resource and an important legacy to future generations. Such scientific collections at NASA may include, but are not limited to:

(1) extraterrestrial materials,

(2) space-exposed hardware deemed critical for curation for research by the appropriate authority,

(3) biological and human research samples,

(4) physical materials derived from space-flight programs, and

(5) other such collections that have been established prior to, during or subsequent to the effective date of this policy.

b. This NPD also sets policy for the programmatic management, control, and operations of these institutional scientific collections, as well as for the planning for curation of new collections. This NPD does not establish policy for NASA's project scientific samples, which are samples unique to projects and not publicly accessible, or artifacts. For project scientific collections that are likely to become, in whole or in part, institutional scientific collections in the future, this NPD should be treated a guide to best practices, and followed to the greatest extent possible.


a. This NPD is applicable to NASA Headquarters and NASA Centers, including Component Facilities, Technical and Service Support Centers, and to all non-NASA facilities that manage NASA-owned institutional scientific collections.

b. This NPD applies to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a Federally Funded Research and Development Center.

c. This NPD applies to contracts, cooperative agreements and/or other NASA supported agreements which do/may generate what are or will become NASA-owned institutional scientific collections, and may apply to grants.

d. In this directive, all mandatory actions (i.e., requirements) are denoted by statements containing the term "shall." The terms: "should" denotes a good practice and is recommended, but not required; "will" denotes expected outcome; and, "are/is" denotes descriptive material.


a. The National Aeronautics and Space Act, 51 U.S.C. 20113(a) as amended.

b. NPD 1000.3, The NASA Organization.


Memorandum to the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Improving the Management of and Access to Scientific Collections, Office of the White House, March 2014


Each institutional scientific collection and/or planned collection, or a group of related institutional scientific collections, will be curated according to its respective NASA Policy Requirements (NPR) document, in its responsible NASA Center, with the respective NASA Directorate being responsible for implementation of this policy. In each case, the authority and responsibilities shall be as follows.

(1) The Office of the Chief Scientist or designee has the authority for the following:

(a) Declaring that a new or existing collection falls under this directive, and identifying the Mission Directorate responsible for curation, which may be different from the Mission Directorate that acquired the specimens in the collection;

(b) Concurring with deaccessioning and/or transfer of collections outside of NASA under recommendation by the NASA Directorates;

(c) Ensuring that NASA Procedural Requirements documents (NPRs) for planned and new collections are written or modified when such institutional collections are identified.

(2) The Associate Administrator or designee of the relevant Mission Directorate (the Mission Directorate responsible for curation) shall be responsible for the following:

(a) Preparation of budgets, development of requirements, long-range plans, and maintenance of appropriate balance between elements of the program. The budget specific to curation shall be an identified part of the Directorate's overall budget. An estimate of costs associated with implementation of this policy will be determined based on the number of institutional scientific collections identified and the management requirements of each by subject matter experts. The costs will be entered into the NASA PPBE budget planning process;

(b) Interaction with other NASA offices or the exercise of other responsibilities as may be necessary to maintain and protect the curated material;

(c) Development and approval of a review and allocation process for the distribution of institutional scientific collection materials to qualified proposers, and to meet other NASA programmatic requirements except as described below;

(d) Development and approval of curation requirements and policies consistent with this NPD for all institutional scientific collections, or groups of institutional scientific collections, for which the directorate is responsible.

(e) Deciding which NASA center shall be responsible for implementing the curation of the collection;

(f) Approving the accessioning, deaccessioning, and transferring of institutional scientific collection materials;

(g) Updating requirements documents when a new institutional scientific collection is identified, and maintaining the relevant NASA Procedural Requirements documents;

(h) Providing annual reports to the Office of the Chief Scientist on the status of collections.

(3) The Center Director of the NASA center that houses the institutional scientific collection(s), shall be responsible for the long-term curation and management of each institutional scientific collection, which includes the following:

(a) Documentation, accessioning, preparation, inventory monitoring, labeling, and deaccessioning of samples.

(b) The physical security, including suitable storage and curation facilities, protection, preservation and proper environment of samples.

(c) The development and maintenance of the system of detailed procedures through which the distribution of curated materials are controlled, and the implementation of that system in conjunction with other NASA offices as necessary.

(d) Online publication of information about institutional collections and the samples contained within them, without restriction, except as required to maintain security, privacy, comply with federal law, and or to address other matters of national interest.

(e) Making samples in institutional scientific collections and associated data accessible to qualified proposers within and outside of the Agency, subject to privacy, security, and export control restrictions; procedures for requesting access to samples and information about how such requests will be evaluated shall be posted online publicly.

(f) Identifying, to the fullest extent that is practicable, representative portions of all curated specimens to be preserved for future generations of researchers.

(g) The periodic review (not less than every 5 years) of project scientific collections for consideration as institutional scientific collections to maximize availability of NASA's samples to qualified proposers.


The NASA Mission Directorate Associate Administrators and Center Directors may delegate the responsibilities listed in section 5 to others within their directorates and center staff as necessary.


The Office of the Chief Scientist will collect annual reports from the responsible directorates according to the responsibilities listed in this NPR are being executed.


NPD 7100.10E, Curation of Extraterrestrial Materials, dated February 11, 2013.

/s/Charles F. Bolden


Accessioning - Addition of an institutional scientific collection to NASA curation.

De-accessioning - Removal of an institutional scientific collection from NASA curation.

Institutional Scientific Collections - Objects in the custody of or owned by NASA that have been identified for long-term preservation and management for scientific research purposes, and are made available through formal procedures to qualified parties within and outside the agency for such research. Such collections are subject to all of the requirements of this NPD.

Project Scientific Collections - Objects in the custody of or owned by NASA that are (or were) primarily used and managed by the staff associated with the project or program that collected the specimens. NASA has not identified a scientific or educational rationale for either long-term preservation or providing wider access to the material to the research and education communities in general. Typically, the specimens are not accessible through sample sharing or loan procedures, or such access is only at the discretion of those associated with the project or program.

Qualified Proposers - Members of the public who meet the requirements for access to the institutional scientific collections through the existing review and approval process for the relevant curated materials.


B.1 Executive Order 13642 of May 9, 2013, Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information

B.2 Memorandum to the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Policy on Scientific Collections, Office of the White House, October 2010

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