Science-enabling Technology

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

Surviving the Lunar Night: DRPS Could Enable the Power to Explore

Dynamic Radioisotope Power Systems (DRPS) may enable lunar science payloads to survive and thrive during the harsh lunar night. New robust DRPS have been built and delivered by industry and are in the process of being tested at NASA’s Glenn Research Center. In partnership with NASA’s Radioisotope Power Systems Program, the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory is in the process of procuring a system-level DRPS design for a lunar demonstration.

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