Science & Technology

The role of the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) is to enable NASA to achieve its science goals in the context of the national science agenda. SMD’s strategic decisions regarding future missions and scientific pursuits are guided by Agency goals, input from the science community, and a commitment to preserve a balanced program across the major science disciplines. Toward this end, each of the four SMD science divisions—Heliophysics, Earth Science, Planetary Science, and Astrophysics — develops fundamental science questions upon which to base future research and mission programs. Often the breakthrough science required to answer these questions requires significant technological innovation— e.g., instruments or platforms with capabilities beyond the current state of the art. SMD’s targeted technology investments fill technology gaps, enabling NASA to build the challenging and complex missions that accomplish groundbreaking science.

Technology Highlights

Surface and Exosphere Alterations by Landers (SEAL): NASA’s Next Lunar Payload?

When a space vehicle lands on the Moon, it interacts with the lunar surface by kicking up dust, creating heat, and even leaving chemical traces. Scientists need a way to gauge how the materials in the vicinity of lunar landing sites are affected to ensure accurate analysis of any surface samples collected nearby. Enter the Surface and Exosphere Alterations by Landers (SEAL) payload—a lunar-bound payload recently developed at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC).

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