The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…" NSF is the only federal agency whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering, except for medical sciences. It is tasked with keeping the United States at the leading edge of discovery in areas from astronomy to geology to zoology. So, in addition to funding research in the traditional academic areas, the agency also supports "high-risk, high pay-off" ideas, novel collaborations and numerous projects that may seem like science fiction today, but which the public will take for granted tomorrow. And in every case, NSF ensures that research is fully integrated with education so that today's revolutionary work will also be training tomorrow's top scientists and engineers.
For more information, visit http://www.nsf.gov.