So, why does this matter, exactly?
Well, first off, let's define open access. Open access pretty much is what it sounds like: it's academic literature that's freely available online, making it open and accessible to the public. There are some journals that are either now open access or contain open access papers, and there's a worldwide movement that is pushing for research to be free and open to the public.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has a plan and policy that now requires all peer-reviewed publications from unclassified NASA-funded research to be freely available online. This is coming into effect after the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy memorandum in 2013 entitled "Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research", which has, well, pushed Federal agencies to increase access of Federally funded research. "Federal agencies," of course, includes NASA.
PubSpace is the public web portal NASA created to archive all of that research. It's hosted on PubMed Central, "a full-text, online archive of journal literature operated by the National Library of Medicine."
Being able to freely access NASA research isn't just significant for people in astronomy; it includes a broad variety of topics from technology to health, and several subjects beyond and in between. And even for people not in STEM, NASA's work is important. I mean, we're affected by NASA technology in our daily lives, from memory foam to baby food to water filtration and so much more.
This move toward more open access literature is really important. After all, what's the point of information if it can't be shared? And how will our pool of knowledge as a species increase if we can't build upon each other's work? These questions need to be asked, and it's time we started addressing them.