Technology Stories

Artist concept of mission spacecraft flying through magnetic fields around earth
Earth
Apr 20, 2017
Technology Infused: In March 2015, NASA launched an exciting new mission to investigate how the sun’s and Earth’s magnetic fields connect and disconnect, explosively transferring energy from one field to the other. This process—called magnetic reconnection—influences celestial bodies throughout the... Read More
Mars
Apr 13, 2017
Technology Infused: The Mars 2020 mission has recently adopted a baseline that includes SMD-sponsored technology developments that will enable its rover to drive faster, more safely, and with improved energy efficiency. Planetary rovers have traditionally been limited by the available computational... Read More
Video still frame of new rover navigating rocky terrain
Universe
Apr 6, 2017
Technology Infused: On December 3, 2015, the LISA Pathfinder mission, led by the European Space Agency, blasted into space carrying the most stable spacecraft thruster system ever qualified for use in space. Developed by NASA JPL, the Space Technology 7 (ST-7) Disturbance Reduction System (DRS) is... Read More
Artist illustration of LISA pathfinder spacecraft in orbit around earth
Solar System
Mar 31, 2017
Technology Infused: The Lunar polar Hydrogen Mapper (LunaH-Map) mission is a CubeSat that will detect the amount of hydrogen at the moon’s South Pole.
Photo of propulsion system for LunaH-Map
Earth
Mar 23, 2017
Technology Infused: After over 20 years of tests and development, NASA’s Balloon Program team is on the cusp of expanding the envelope in high-altitude, heavylift ballooning with its super pressure balloon (SPB) technology. SMD technology investments that enabled development of SPB, the first... Read More
Photograph of balloon being inflated on airport tarmac
Solar System
Mar 16, 2017
Technologies Infused: When NASA launches its mission to explore Jupiter’s moon Europa in the 2020s, seven instruments enabled by SMD technology investments or flight development efforts will be onboard to help achieve mission science goals.
Illustration of spacecraft approaching Europa
Earth
Mar 8, 2017
Technology Infused: On April 25, 2015, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck the mountainous nation of Nepal, causing widespread destruction and loss of life. Known as the Gorkha Earthquake, the event was the largest earthquake to strike the country in over 80 years. During the initial response to the... Read More
Image of Nepal earthquake data
Earth’s Space Environment
Mar 2, 2017
Technology Infused: NASA-sponsored technology has been employed to develop a state-of-the-art heat shield that will enable an important Heliophysics mission—the Solar Probe Plus (SPP). The newly developed carboncomposite heat shield will protect the spacecraft from the impacts from hypervelocity... Read More
Illustration of Solar Probe approaching orange and yellow sun
Solar System
Feb 17, 2017
Technology Development: NASA is sponsoring development of an alkali-metal Variable Conductance Heat Pipe (VCHP) to serve as a heat source backup cooling device for Stirling Radioisotope Power Systems (RPS). RPS are critical to planetary missions because they produce electricity and heat for long... Read More
technical diagram
Universe
Feb 3, 2017
Technology Development: The NASA Glenn Research Center is developing the next generation of Stirling Radioisotope Generators (SRGs) to power deep space science missions. One potential technology gap is the waste heat rejection approach for higher power Stirling convertors. The previous 140W... Read More
Photo of radial core heat spreader
Earth
Jan 27, 2017
Technology Development: Nearly two decades of NASA technology investment in lidar systems and two-micron transmitters has resulted in a new capability for remotely measuring the carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in Earth’s atmosphere. NASA has developed an Integrated Path Differential Absorption (IPDA)... Read More
Photo of the IPDA lidar system installed onboard a NASA aircraft
Planets of Our Solar System
Jan 19, 2017
SMD is supporting development of a deep-drill sampler called the Auto-Gopher for potential deployment in future space exploration missions.
Illustration of the Auto-gopher 1 performing a deep drill
Earth
Jan 13, 2017
The GEO-CAPE ROIC In- Flight Performance Experiment (GRIFEX) CubeSat was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Saturday, January 31, 2015, as an auxiliary payload to the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission.
Illustration of a rectangular satellite in orbit
Planets of Our Solar System
Jan 5, 2017
Technology Development: When the Galileo mission’s probe entered the Jovian atmosphere in December 1995, it experienced temperatures twice as hot as the surface of the sun, and required carbon phenolic shields to protect its onboard payload from the intense heat. Since that mission, NASA has not... Read More
Testing of HEEET material at the NASA Ames Arc Jet Complex in the Interaction Heating Facility.
Earth
Nov 18, 2016
Technology Development: The Multi-Slit Optimized Spectrometer (MOS) prototype instrument is an airborne sensor designed to demonstrate and validate the multislit concept for hyperspectral ocean color retrievals with real-world scenes. The instrument design represents a new option for hyperspectral... Read More
photograph of MOS instrument