Science-enabling Technology

A long, brown, cylindrical structure penetrates blue water; a beam of gold light projected from the side of the structure toward the surface.

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.

Technology Highlights

A bright green laser beam is hitting a tiny glassy cube. The bottom photo shows the same setup, but with a large circular filter added in front of the glassy cube. The laser beam is invisible behind the filter, the glassy cube emits a reddish glow.

Solid State Quantum Magnetometers—Seeking out water worlds from the quantum world

“Follow the water!”  The solar system is full of water in different states, from the Sun’s water vapor to the…

A square grid containing arrows pointing in the direction of the aerosol flow, which is mainly toward the top righthand side of the grid.

NASA “Wildfire Digital Twin” Pioneers New AI Models and Streaming Data Techniques for Forecasting Fire and Smoke

NASA’s “Wildfire Digital Twin” project will equip firefighters and wildfire managers with a superior tool for monitoring wildfires and predicting…

A microscope image of a rectangular chip, showing the different parts of the superconducting camera, including imaging area and ancillary electronics. The chip has a colorful patina, with hues of yellow on the left, red in the center, and blue on the right.

Breaking the Scaling Limits: New Ultralow-noise Superconducting Camera for Exoplanet Searches

When imaging faint objects such as distant stars or exoplanets, capturing every last bit of light is crucial to get…

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