It is the overarching goal of SUN-EARTH CONNECTIONS to study the intricate and critical relationship between Sun and Earth. SUN-EARTH CONNECTIONS examines the frontiers at both the very inner and outer fringes of our solar system and explores our Sun in every detail. Scientists focus on the solar atmosphere and flares, global magnetospheric structure and dynamics, and upper atmospheric structure and energetics, and the coupling among them. The Sun, its atmosphere and heliosphere, space weather, and the Earth's magnetosphere and atmosphere are related by physical processes that are only partially understood.
The SEARCH FOR ORIGINS concentrates on developing the technologies needed to deploy a succession of sophisticated space telescopes, each building on scientific and technological achievements of prior missions. Combined with ground-based observatories, this approach will provide a better sense of the Universe around us and our place in it. This research program seeks to answer such questions as: How do stars and galaxies form? Are there planets inside or outside our solar system that are capable of sustaining life? 
Three fundamental scientific quests focus the STRUCTURE AND EVOLUTION OF THE UNIVERSE research program. The first goal is to explain the structure of the Universe and forecast our cosmic destiny. The second aim is to explore the cycles of matter and energy in the evolving Universe. The third focus is to examine the ultimate limits of gravity and energy in the Universe. In order to address these quests, NASA scientists must identify dark matter and learn how it shapes galaxies and clusters of galaxies; determine where and when the chemical elements were made; understand the cycles in which matter, energy, and magnetic field are exchanged between stars and the gas between stars; discover how gas flows in disks and how cosmic jets are formed; identify the sources of gamma-ray bursts and high-energy cosmic rays; and measure how strong gravity operates near black holes.
Questions that humankind has asked throughout the ages form the basis of the broad and lofty goals for NASA's EXPLORATION OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM research. NASA scientists want to determine how our solar system formed, and understand whether planetary systems are a common phenomenon throughout the cosmos. The research program explores the diverse changes that planets have undergone throughout their history and that take place at present, including those that distinguish Earth as a planet with the goal of understanding the processes that led to life on Earth and learning whether life began elsewhere in our solar system. Using both satellites and high quality research instruments, NASA scientists are investigating natural phenomena that occur under conditions not realizable in laboratories. Further, the research program supports the discovery of new mineral resources in the solar system that could be used by human civilizations in the future to lay the groundwork for human expansion into the solar system in the Twenty-first Century.