Technology Highlights

Photograph of two men wearing breathing masks and sitting in a lab with blue metal cases holding computer equipment.
Solar System
Oct 12, 2021
Dynamic Radioisotope Power Systems may enable lunar science payloads to survive and thrive during the harsh lunar night.
Solar System
Aug 16, 2021
Icy worlds like Jupiter’s moon Europa are prime targets of study to achieve one of NASA’s longstanding goals – to determine whether or not we are alone in the universe.
Artist illustration of Europa, Jupiter's moon, a blue image indicating the icy surface glow.
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
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.
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
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
Solar System
Jun 9, 2020
Spacecraft frequently employ solar cells and arrays to collect energy from the Sun to power onboard systems. But just like any other spacecraft system, these cells and arrays must be capable of operating in the harsh environments that their host satellite encounters.
Artist concept of spacecraft with mirrors in orbit
Solar System
Apr 14, 2020
The next phase of groundbreaking planetary science requires access to the sub-surface and a means to capture planetary material for analysis.
Photo of DrACO team
Solar System
Mar 2, 2020
A new office has been created to manage the development of scientific instruments, space vehicle technologies, and mission support technologies needed for future planetary science missions.
Image of Jupiter's moon Europa
Solar System
Feb 3, 2020
To help protect future space assets from dangerous effects that arise from radiation exposure, NASA is developing a new series of vacuum electronics.
Team of scientists in lab
Solar System
Jan 15, 2020
The capability to operate in harsh environments is crucial for spacecraft to explore the most forbidding regions in the solar system. Recent advances in silicon carbide (SiC) electronics have changed the paradigm of what is possible for exploration of such environments, including the surface of... Read More
Photo of scientist in lab gear working on computer testing chips
Solar System, Mars
Dec 30, 2019
The Mars Helicopter is a technology demonstration for the Mars 2020 rover mission, intended to show the feasibility and utility of using helicopters for Mars exploration. This technology may enable future missions to perform reconnaissance or independent science, and to access terrain not reachable... Read More
Artist's concept of the Mars Helicopter with the Mars 2020 rover in the background
Solar System
Nov 12, 2019
Hyperdust’s unique ion optics design combines the ability to provide high-performance composition measurements with the aperture that is needed to detect a statistically significant number of particles in space over a standard mission duration of a few years.
Photo of hyperdust prototype
Solar System
Aug 13, 2019
Understanding potential failure modes can lead to improved designs that will enable Dynamic RPS to provide highly reliable power to planetary science missions for up to 17 years of operational life.
Photo of Salvatore Oriti and Scott Wilson inspect power converter TDC #13 in NASA GRC’s Stirling Research Laboratory
Solar System
Jul 8, 2019
This blog post originated in the 2017 Science Mission Directorate Technology Highlights Report (33 MB PDF).
Artist depiction of Dragonfly mission with two parachute rotorcraft above the surface of the moon Titan