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.
Gravitational waves are minute ripples in space-time caused by the most energetic events in the universe—like the collision of two supermassive black holes. To detect gravitational waves, we will measure the tiny variations in the motion of purely free-falling test masses housed in three Sun-orbiting spacecraft. The CMD is vital for ensuring that electrostatic charge buildup on the test masses does not disturb their motion and obscure the gravitational wave signal.