The goal of the Foundation’s astronomy and cosmology grantmaking is to enhance and accelerate new scientific discoveries that illuminate basic understanding of the universe and its celestial objects and processes.


Cosmology studies the origin and evolution of the universe as a whole, and astronomy focuses on the bodies, structures, and events that the universe contains. We are living in an era where our ability to observe and measure the universe and its contents is becoming more detailed, comprehensive, and precise. This is revolutionizing our understanding of the universe by providing data to test cosmological theories like the Big Bang and Cosmic Inflation, and which suggest that 95 percent of all energy and matter in the universe is locked up in as-yet-unidentified dark matter and dark energy. New sub-fields with high potential— like gravity wave astronomy and exoplanet science— are also emerging.

Against this backdrop, the Science program aims to initiate and hasten new scientific discoveries through targeted funding.

Examples of Funding

  • Instrumentation, to advance the observation and measurement of the universe and its constituents, including dark matter, dark energy, galactic structure, and the cosmic microwave background.
  • Planetary Astronomy, to enhance and accelerate scientific progress in planetary astronomy science, including the discovery of exoplanets (planets that orbit a star other than the sun), the characterization of exoplanets in habitable zones, and the study of our solar system’s formation and evolution.