Science & Technology

The role of the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) is to enable NASA to achieve its science goals in the context of the national science agenda. SMD’s strategic decisions regarding future missions and scientific pursuits are guided by Agency goals, input from the science community, and a commitment to preserve a balanced program across the major science disciplines. Toward this end, each of the four SMD science divisions—Heliophysics, Earth Science, Planetary Science, and Astrophysics?— develops fundamental science questions upon which to base future research and mission programs. Often the breakthrough science required to answer these questions requires significant technological innovation— e.g., instruments or platforms with capabilities beyond the current state of the art. SMD’s targeted technology investments fill technology gaps, enabling NASA to build the challenging and complex missions that accomplish groundbreaking science.

Technology Highlights

Crafting Detectors Atomic Layer by Atomic Layer has a High Impact on Ultraviolet Astrophysics Missions

The ultraviolet (UV) 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 mission (LUVOIR), would cover the important UV region. These powerful Earth-orbiting telescopes need detectors that are efficient, sensitive, and optimized for this specific spectral range.

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