Technology Highlights 2017

Earth
Apr 6, 2021
HOT BIRD isn’t hot or a bird. It’s the world-class infrared detector that could revolutionize the way we see our planet from space.
Universe
Mar 23, 2021
A NASA-sponsored team at the MIT Space Nanotechnology Lab is developing high-performance space instrumentation for more powerful future X-ray telescopes that will study the dynamics of the high-energy universe.
Photo of mirror and hardware
Space Experiments, Space Biology, Physical Sciences
Mar 9, 2021
NASA seeks to understand the impact of the spaceflight environment on organisms in preparation for long-duration missions. Spectrum was developed to undertake these types of studies using model organisms on ISS.
Series of 3 photos (left to right) a man next to the spectrum box, middle - a male astronaut inserting a specimen plate into the spectrum box, right - a female astronaut holding the speciman plate
Solar System, Mars, Planets of Our Solar System
Feb 15, 2021
To land accurately and avoid hazardous terrain, NASA has developed an autonomous, vision-based system for landmark recognition, spacecraft position estimation, and spacecraft retargeting, which will be used on Mars 2020 and potentially other future missions.
Artist concept of Mars Rover landing the on Mars surface
Universe
Jan 5, 2021
Space telescopes have historically been expensive to plan, build, and launch. Leveraging the development of small spacecraft, CubeSats, enable capable and reliable platforms with well-focused goals, rapid development times, and affordable costs.
Two men and one woman in blue lab jackets work on HaloSat hardware on a table.
Space Experiments
Dec 22, 2020
Interferometry of atomic matter-waves has been demonstrated for the first time in orbit, opening the door for precision quantum sensing for both fundamental and applied physics applications ranging from tests of general relativity to planetary geodesy.
View of the atom interferometry-capable Science Module inside two layers of magnetic shields during the pre-launch build/testing phase at JPL.
Universe
Dec 8, 2020
The far-IR is a powerful but relatively unexplored spectral band that can enable study of the birth and infancy of galaxies. 
Collage of photos of 5 scientists and researchers.
Solar System
Nov 24, 2020
Q-PACE will capture video of thousands of gentle collisions between particles in microgravity to understand the earliest steps in planet formation.
Photo of three scientists (1 female, 2 male) working on Q-PACE electronics at a desk.
Earth
Nov 10, 2020
The miniaturized SAGE IV Pathfinder instrument may one day enable a constellation of small satellites to continue and enhance atmospheric ozone monitoring.
Photo of two men with the SAGE IV instrument hardware on a tripod
Earth
Sep 29, 2020
To help monitor ground deformation from space, NASA developed a new technology equipped with an S-band Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) for a small satellite platform.
Photo of 3 Sisters volcano
Solar System
Sep 1, 2020
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... Read More
Photo of scientists in lab assembling equipment
Universe
Aug 18, 2020
The ultraviolet spectral range is rich with information about the atmospheres of exosolar planets, star formation, supernovae, the circumgalactic medium, and much more. Two future flagship mission concepts, Habitable Exoplanet characterization (HabEx) and Large Ultraviolet/Optical/Infrared survey... Read More
Photo of a male and female scientist is a lab full of equipment
Earth
Aug 4, 2020
The Hyper-Angular Rainbow Polarimeter’s measurements help us better understand how clouds and aerosols impact weather, climate, and air quality.
Satellite image indicating cloud and aerosol coverage in the atmosphere
Solar System
Jul 14, 2020
NASA researchers are exploring a new radar-based method to map water vapor both in Earth’s atmosphere and near the surface of Mars.
Photo of some members of the WASSR team loading science gear onto an aircraft
Universe
Jun 30, 2020
A team at GSFC is investigating techniques for creating highly reflective aluminum mirrors sensitive to the far-ultraviolet in addition to the infrared, optical, and visible wavelengths.
Photo of engineers in GSFC coating lab
Earth
Dec 4, 2017
TCIS is a tool that fuses hurricane models and observations within a web-based system to improve forecasting capabilities.
This screen capture from the TCIS tool shows some of the enhancements to interactive region selection, model and data acquisition, statistical comparison, and visualization.
Solar System
Nov 6, 2017
NASA’s future planetary exploration efforts, including missions to Venus, require electronics capable of surviving temperatures of 470° C and above for long durations. Such durable electronics eliminate the need for cooling systems to enable sustained operations. A team at NASA Glenn Research... Read More
photo of planet Venus
Earth, Earth’s Space Environment
Oct 23, 2017
In 2016, scientists at Goddard Space Flight Center produced mirrors with the highest reflectance ever reported in the farultraviolet spectral range. To develop these mirrors, the team developed a new three-step physical vapor deposition process to coat aluminum mirrors with protective magnesium... Read More
The ICON FUV spectrograph.
Universe, Stars
Oct 10, 2017
This blog post originated in the 2016 Science Mission Directorate Technology Highlights Report (20 MB PDF).
Close-up of a Schottky diode, showing the air-bridge that connects the anode
Earth
Sep 25, 2017
This blog post originated in the 2015 Science Mission Directorate Technology Highlights Report (2 MB PDF).
Photo of scientist testing PUFFER on snowy surface
Earth, Ice
Sep 11, 2017
This blog post originated in the 2015 Science Mission Directorate Technology Highlights Report (2 MB PDF). Technology Development: A new instrument, the Ultrawideband Software-Defined Microwave Radiometer (UWBRAD), aims to provide measurements of ice sheet thermal emission to remotely sense... Read More
Photograph of Canadian Rocky mountains, view from airplane
Universe, Stars
Aug 28, 2017
This blog post originated in the 2015 Science Mission Directorate Technology Highlights Report (2 MB PDF).
Photo of dust accelerator setup in laboratory
Earth
Jul 31, 2017
This blog post originated in the 2015 Science Mission Directorate Technology Highlights Report (2 MB PDF). Technology Development: The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat mission launched on November 11, 2016 as a secondary payload on a United Launch Alliance... Read More
Photo of model of RAVAN with deployed solar panels
Universe
Jul 11, 2017
This blog post originated in the 2015 Science Mission Directorate Technology Highlights Report (2 MB PDF).
illustrated diagram
Earth
Apr 20, 2017
Technology Infused: In March 2015, NASA launched an exciting new mission to investigate how the sun’s and Earth’s magnetic fields connect and disconnect, explosively transferring energy from one field to the other. This process—called magnetic reconnection—influences celestial bodies throughout the... Read More
Artist concept of mission spacecraft flying through magnetic fields around earth
Mars
Apr 13, 2017
This blog post originated in the 2015 Science Mission Directorate Technology Highlights Report (2 MB PDF).
Video still frame of new rover navigating rocky terrain
Universe
Apr 6, 2017
This blog post originated in the 2015 Science Mission Directorate Technology Highlights Report (2 MB PDF).
Artist illustration of LISA pathfinder spacecraft in orbit around earth
Solar System
Mar 31, 2017
This blog post originated in the 2015 Science Mission Directorate Technology Highlights Report (2 MB PDF). Technology Infused: The Lunar polar Hydrogen Mapper (LunaH-Map) mission is a CubeSat that will detect the amount of hydrogen at the moon’s South Pole.
Photo of propulsion system for LunaH-Map
Earth
Mar 23, 2017
Technology Infused: After over 20 years of tests and development, NASA’s Balloon Program team is on the cusp of expanding the envelope in high-altitude, heavylift ballooning with its super pressure balloon (SPB) technology. SMD technology investments that enabled development of SPB, the first... Read More
Photograph of balloon being inflated on airport tarmac