Seeking to bridge a gap with the academic world, NASA has pledged $330 million to the University of California (UC) to develop a research institution where NASA and UC scientists will work together on space agency projects. The 10-year contract will link NASA's Ames Research Center in California's "Silicon Valley" to the state's UC system and will fund the creation of a University Affiliated Research Center (UARC). The University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) will manage the UC side of the project.

"We were looking for a way to attract the best and brightest to the challenging [NASA] mission problems," said NASA's Carol Russo, who served as technical lead for the UARC procurement and special assistant to Ames director G. Scott Hubbard. "University researchers will be performing mission-driven research at UARC, with specific deadlines, milestones, and deliverables, unlike a grant-based environment."

NASA officials said they also see the 10-year UARC...

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