Technology Highlights

Photo of a lab desk with a hardware set up; a monitor is on above a box with dozen of colored connected cables and a green light emts from a metal box on a nearby desk
Universe
Dec 6, 2022
“Are we alone in the universe?” may be one of the most compelling questions of our generation. Direct imaging of planetary systems around other stars to detect and characterize Earth-like planets that could potentially sustain life requires telescopes that are large and extremely stable.
Solar System
Nov 22, 2022
Detection of extraterrestrial life would be an incredible discovery, revolutionizing humanity’s perception of life and providing us insight into how life begins and persists in various environments.
Artist concept illustrates a cross-sectional view of a potential ocean world with a surface layer of ice above a thicker layer of ocean water above a thinner layer of ocean floor. 3 thumbnail photos below that illustrate hydrothermal vents, ice fractures and ice blocks.
Earth
Nov 1, 2022
Excess nutrients and pollutants washed off land by rainstorms can degrade water quality and harm marine life and humans. Identifying these problems before they can affect us is a constant challenge for water resource managers.
Satellite image of the Maryland coastline illustrating the wash off of nutrients and pollutants at the coastline with light blue.
Universe
Oct 18, 2022
An SMD-sponsored team has taken major steps towards providing the new detector arrays needed for future far-infrared space missions.
Photo of a woman in protective lab clothing sitting at a computer in a cleanroom with 9 green squares on the screen
Space Experiments
Oct 4, 2022
An advanced temperature control technique developed for future NASA missions can also make charging electric vehicles easier and faster—potentially paving the way for increased adoption of electric cars.
Photo on left is a woman plugging in a red electric vehicle; photo on right is a group of people working with equipment in a lab
Earth
Sep 20, 2022
NASA’s HARP instrument was the first hyper-angular polarimeter to fly in space and pioneered new technologies for observing cloud and aerosol properties—all on a tiny CubeSat!
Photo of three men with smiles on their faces standing in a lab at a table with a full size model of HARP, a black rectangular boxy object on a pedestal
Solar System
Aug 30, 2022
NASA has developed technologies to enable an autonomous lunar surface station that will revolutionize data gathering on the Moon in the same way that scattered ocean buoys revolutionized collection of meteorological data on Earth.
Artist rendering of a monitoring station  on the moon surface with Earth in the background
Universe
Aug 16, 2022
New imaging technology will help enable future large X-ray telescopes to trace the origin and growth of black holes and the ways they’ve shaped the cosmos.
Close up photo of a green and gold image sensor with numbers and text on it.
Space Experiments, Space Biology
Aug 2, 2022
Determining how blood-flow patterns near valves in the veins affect the movement of red blood cells may identify ways to prevent blood clots in astronauts.
Photo of a man and woman in lab coats working at a computer and microscope
Sun
Jul 19, 2022
Endurance carried a new type of space plasma analyzer with extremely fine energy resolution to make the first measurements of Earth’s electrical potential. This technology could also enable new tools to measure plasmas in the laboratory and in industrial applications.
Photo of a rocket just seconds after take off with snow covered hills in the background
Earth
Jun 28, 2022
A new radar receiver will greatly enhance scientists’ ability to study storms, observe polar ice, predict floods, and measure sea surface height.
Satellite image of a hurricane passing over the Pacific Ocean.
Solar System
Jun 14, 2022
An SMD-sponsored team at Honeybee Robotics is developing a Pneumatic Sampler (P-SMP) to capture material on the surface of Mars’s moon, Phobos, for sample return to Earth. Successful infusion of this capability into JAXA’s MMX mission signifies the success of long-term SMD technology development... Read More
Universe
Jun 1, 2022
A new effort that combines two multiplexing techniques will help enable the large-format spectroscopic detector arrays needed for future x-ray astrophysics missions.
Collage of 3 photos: left - a man and a woman working on a large metal device, middle - a masked and gloved woman working on a metal device, right - a man in a lab coat, mask and hat working at a computer terminal
Space Experiments, Space Biology
May 17, 2022
Harvesting and containment technologies for microgreens may allow astronauts to add these delicious, nutritious crops to their space diet.
Earth, Climate Change
May 3, 2022
An SMD-sponsored team of researchers has demonstrated a novel software platform that will enable networks of dispersed sensors to share information with each other more efficiently; this capability has the potential to provide a far more comprehensive view of Earth than any single sensor ever could...
Two satellite images side by side to illustrate flood damage in the midwest.