Technology Highlights 2017

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
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!
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.
Solar System, Planets of Our Solar System
Apr 19, 2022
Keeping NASA’s robotic explorers healthy takes smart software, especially in remote and harsh environments. An initial investment by NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program led to development of a new technology that may enable robotic exploration of distant destinations in our... Read More
Photo of Jupiter's moon Europa, light grey with brown streaks.
Universe
Apr 5, 2022
PROJECT Electron-beam Ruled Gratings for Future Ultraviolet/Optical Missions SNAPSHOT Advanced semi-conductor fabrication methods will help improve the performance—and potentially reduce the cost—of the next major ultraviolet/optical space observatory. 
PSU Researcher Professor Fabien Grisé prepares a substrate for the CU-LASP Dual-channel Extreme Ultraviolet Continuum Spectrograph (DEUCE, PI: Brian Fleming) sounding rocket grating prior to employing the new electron-beam lithography technique.
Earth
Mar 15, 2022
A team of researchers is developing a new instrument that will help scientists better understand the impact high-altitude ice clouds have on weather and climate change on Earth.
Satellite photo of thunderstorms scattered over a blue area on planet earth
Solar System
Mar 1, 2022
All space missions that involve atmospheric entry of a probe or science payload must utilize a Thermal Protection System (TPS) to protect the payload from the extreme heat experienced during atmospheric entry. 
Space Experiments
Feb 15, 2022
A NASA-sponsored team is developing soilless nutrient delivery and recovery technologies that will be demonstrated via plant tests aboard the International Space Station.
Photo of a man working on plants under grow lights
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