Technology Stories

Conceptual design for ARCHIMEDES on Juptier's moon Europa
Nov 13, 2018
Europa is one of 53 confirmed moons orbiting Jupiter. While slightly smaller than Earth’s moon, Europa primarily consists of silicate rock and is intriguing in that its crust consists of frozen water. Future missions under consideration to Europa would be enhanced by the ability to penetrate the... Read More
Oct 31, 2018
Relic radiation from the Big Bang—the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB)—provides a Rosetta stone for deciphering the content, structure, and evolution of the early universe. Current theoretical understanding suggests that the universe underwent a rapid exponential expansion, called “inflation,” in... Read More
Photo of CLASS telescope
Oct 16, 2018
Chorus waves are a class of frequency-chirping, whistler-mode plasma waves that are routinely observed in Earth’s near-space environment. Chorus waves play a key role in various physical processes including the formation of the Earth’s Van Allen radiation belts, the pulsating aurora, and the... Read More
Illustration of Van Allen Radiation Belts surrounding earth
Sep 18, 2018
NASA is developing a new type of detector that will provide insight into the formation and structure of the universe. Many of the radiative and mechanical interactions that shape the interstellar medium of galaxies and drive galactic evolution (e.g., shock waves from stellar winds and jets,... Read More
The figure above shows: (a) an array of 3rd-order DFB lasers gold wire bonded to an electronic chip, (b) a photo of a fabricated array of DFB triplets, (c) scanning electron microscope image of a DFB device showing three periods, and (d) a schematic of a triplet with the corresponding radiation profile.
Aug 27, 2018
An SMD-sponsored project successfully designed, fabricated, and tested a new application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) intended to enable high-quality radio occultation (RO) weather observations using signals from the Global Navigation System Satellite (GNSS) constellations. RO measurements... Read More
Photo of large circuit board
Aug 13, 2018
Precise polarization measurements of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation, an ancient glow from the early universe, may help scientists better understand how the universe rapidly expanded in a burst called “inflation” moments after the Big Bang. 
Photo of detector antenna and superconducting arrays
Solar System
Jul 30, 2018
Over the past four years, NASA’s Heatshield for Extreme Entry Environment Technology (HEEET) Project has been maturing a novel, three-dimensional, woven Thermal Protection System (TPS) technology for science missions recommended in the Planetary Science Decadal Survey. These missions—Venus probes... Read More
Photo of HEEET model arojet testing
Universe, Exoplanets
Jul 16, 2018
A team of NASA optics experts has built a picometer spatial metrology system that may enable a major Agency initiative—to locate and image Earth-like planets beyond the solar system and scrutinize their atmospheres for signs of life. Researchers at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), in conjunction... Read More
Artist rendition of an exoplanet
Jul 2, 2018
In March 2016, NASA announced the selection of two proposals—both direct infusions of Earth Science Technology Office (ESTO) projects—under the third solicitation of the Earth Venture Instrument (EVI) program. Managed by the Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP) program, the EVI program targets... Read More
Artists depiction of the constellation of TROPICS CubeSats.
Jun 18, 2018
A team led by University of Colorado researchers has successfully developed the first science CubeSat mission for NASA’s Heliophysics Division. The Miniature X-ray Solar Spectrometer-1 (MinXSS-1) is a 3-Unit CubeSat measuring the energy distribution of soft X-rays from the sun.
Photo of CubeSat over Earth's horizon taken from the ISS
May 14, 2018
In 2016, NASA delivered three types of detectors developed for Ultraviolet (UV), Near UV (NUV), and Near Infrared (NIR) applications to several different projects involving on-sky observations. Development of these charge-coupled devices (CCDs) required several new processes formulated by NASA.... Read More
2-D doped EMCCD sensor
Earth’s Space Environment
Apr 30, 2018
NASA is sponsoring a team developing a new type of payload to collect ionospheric plasma data at multiple points near a suborbital main payload. These low-resource, easily reproducible payloads—called Bobs—were developed for the NASA Isinglass auroral sounding rocket mission (conducted in February... Read More
Illustration of the Bob payload with and without the external housing
Apr 16, 2018
NASA Glenn Research Center has been supporting the development of high-efficiency Stirling power convertors for potential use in Radioisotope Power Systems (RPS) for over a decade. Stirling convertors are engines that convert heat into electricity by oscillating a linear alternator.
Illustrated cross-section of technology demonstration convertors
Apr 2, 2018
An X-ray telescope is characterized by four parameters: angular resolution, effective area, mass, and production cost. Researchers at NASA GSFC have developed a new X-ray mirror technology that is expected to improve one or more of these parameters by at least an order of magnitude, compared to the... Read More
Photo of mirror reflecting NASA logo
Mar 19, 2018
Radioisotope power systems provide the efficient, long-lasting power sources vital to the success of numerous NASA space missions. NASA SMD is sponsoring technology development efforts to improve Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG) performance, both in terms of the thermal-to-electric... Read More
Thermoelectric testing data