Science-enabling Technology

M51, the Whirlpool galaxy

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 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…

A cylindrical metal device with an azimuthal white channel mounted to a metal support structure inside a much larger metal chamber. A blue glow lights up the azimuthal chamber and a blue plume radiates light to the right of the thruster.

Pushing the Limits of Sub-Kilowatt Electric Propulsion Technology to Enable Planetary Exploration and Commercial Mission Concepts

NASA has developed an advanced propulsion technology to facilitate future planetary exploration missions using small spacecraft. Not only will this…

Making Ultra-fast Electron Measurements in Multiple Directions to Reveal the Secrets of the Aurora

The energetic electrons that drive the aurora borealis (the northern lights) have a rich and very dynamic structure that we…

Keep Exploring

Discover More Topics From NASA