Achieving the Science Mission Directorate’s groundbreaking science goals often requires significant technological innovation—e.g., new instruments or cutting-edge capabilities. Each SMD science division—Astrophysics, Biological and Physical Sciences, Earth Science, Heliophysics, and Planetary Science—develops new technologies targeted to enable SMD science. Often, these efforts are accomplished via division-sponsored technology development or mission programs. The directorate also sponsors collaborative workshops where stakeholders examine how innovative technologies can enable Agency missions. In addition, SMD coordinates with other NASA directorates, government agencies, industry, and academia to ensure its research programs and missions have the technology they need to accomplish revolutionary science.
Astronauts on long-duration exploration missions may consume fresh produce to add bioavailable nutrients and variety to their packaged diet. Microgreens are nutritious and delicious, but growing and harvesting these small, densely packed plants without gravity could be challenging. NASA has recently developed some candidate approaches to these challenges and has tested them using parabolic flights to provide short durations of microgravity.