Technology Highlights

Photo of scientist in lab gear working on computer testing chips
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
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
Solar System
Jun 17, 2019
This blog post originated in the 2017 Science Mission Directorate Technology Highlights Report (33 MB PDF).
Photo of magnetometer sensor comparable in size to a penny
Solar System
Mar 18, 2019
Aerocapture technologies have the potential to enable orbital missions to the outer planets and their satellites by the judicious use of aerodynamic forces in a planetary atmosphere. 
Image of Saturn's moon Titan
Solar System
Jul 30, 2018
Over the past four years, NASA’s Heatshield for Extreme Entry Environment Technology (HEEET) Project has been maturing a novel, three-dimensional, woven Thermal Protection System (TPS) technology for science missions recommended in the Planetary Science Decadal Survey. These missions—Venus probes... Read More
Photo of HEEET model arojet testing
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
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
Solar System
Mar 16, 2017
Technologies Infused: When NASA launches its mission to explore Jupiter’s moon Europa in the 2020s, seven instruments enabled by SMD technology investments or flight development efforts will be onboard to help achieve mission science goals.
Illustration of spacecraft approaching Europa
Solar System
Feb 17, 2017
Technology Development: NASA is sponsoring development of an alkali-metal Variable Conductance Heat Pipe (VCHP) to serve as a heat source backup cooling device for Stirling Radioisotope Power Systems (RPS). RPS are critical to planetary missions because they produce electricity and heat for long... Read More
technical diagram