NASA Mission Directorates and Center Alignment

NASA’s Mission to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery, and aeronautics research, draws support from four Mission Directorates, nine NASA Centers, and JPL, each with a specific responsibility.

A.1 Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) conducts high-quality, cutting-edge research that generates innovative concepts, tools, and technologies to enable revolutionary advances in our Nation’s future aircraft, as well as in the airspace in which they will fly. ARMD’s four research programs develop advanced technologies to reduce aviation’s environmental impact & transform the way we fly.

Additional information on the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) can be found at: https://www.nasa.gov/aeroresearch.

Areas of Interest - POC: Karen Rugg, karen.l.rugg@nasa.gov

Proposers are directed to the following:

  • ARMD Programs: https://www.nasa.gov/aeroresearch/programs
  • The ARMD current year version of the NASA Research Announcement (NRA) entitled, "Research Opportunities in Aeronautics (ROA)” is posted on the NSPIRES web site at http://nspires.nasaprs.com (Key word:Aeronautics). This solicitation provides a complete range of ARMD research interests.

A.2 Human Exploration & Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) provides the Agency with leadership and management of NASA space operations related to human exploration in and beyond low-Earth orbit. HEO also oversees low-level requirements development, policy, and programmatic oversight. The International Space Station, currently orbiting the Earth with a crew of six, represents the NASA exploration activities in low-Earth orbit.  Exploration activities beyond low Earth orbit include the management of Commercial Space Transportation, Exploration Systems Development, Human Space Flight Capabilities, Advanced Exploration Systems, and Space Life Sciences Research & Applications. The directorate is similarly responsible for Agency leadership and management of NASA space operations related to Launch Services, Space Transportation, and Space Communications in support of both human and robotic exploration programs. Additional information on the Human Exploration & Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) can be found at: (http://www.nasa.gov/directorates/heo/home/index.html)

Areas of Interest - POC: Bradley Carpenter, bcarpenter@nasa.gov

Human Research Program

The Human Research Program (HRP) is focused on investigating and mitigating the highest risks to human health and performance in order to enable safe, reliable, and productive human space exploration. The HRP budget enables NASA to resolve health risks in order for humans to safely live and work on missions in the inner solar system. HRP conducts research, develops countermeasures, and undertakes technology development to address human health risks in space and ensure compliance with NASA's health, medical, human performance, and environmental standards.

Space Life Sciences

The Space Life Sciences, Space Biology Program has three primary goals:

  • To effectively use microgravity and the other characteristics of the space environment to enhance our understanding of fundamental biological processes;
  • To develop the scientific and technological foundations for a safe, productive human presence in space for extended periods and in preparation for exploration; and
  • To apply this knowledge and technology to improve our nation's competitiveness, education, and the quality of life on Earth.

 

These goals will be achieved by soliciting research using its three program elements:

  • Cell and Molecular Biology and Microbial Biology - studies of the effect of gravity and the space environment on cellular, microbial and molecular processes;
  • Organismal & Comparative Biology - studies and comparisons of responses of whole organisms and their systems; and
  • Developmental Biology – studies of how spaceflight affects reproduction, development, maturation and aging of multi-cellular organisms, as described in NASA's Fundamental Space Biology Science Plan (PDF, 7.4 MB).

 

Further details about ongoing activities specific to Space Biology are available at: Space Biosciences website

 

Physical Science Research

The Physical Science Research Program, along with its predecessors, has conducted significant fundamental and applied research, both which have led to improved space systems and produced new products offering benefits on Earth. NASA's experiments in various disciplines of physical science reveal how physical systems respond to the near absence of gravity. They also reveal how other forces that on Earth are small compared to gravity, can dominate system behavior in space.

The Physical Science Research Program also benefits from collaborations with several of the International Space Station international partners—Europe, Russia, Japan, and Canada—and foreign governments with space programs, such as France, Germany and Italy. The scale of this research enterprise promises new possibilities in the physical sciences, some of which are already being realized both in the form of innovations for space exploration to improve the quality of life on Earth.

Research in physical sciences spans from basic and applied research in the areas of:

  • Fluid physics: two-phase flow, phase change, boiling, condensation and capillary and interfacial phenomena;
  • Combustion science: spacecraft fire safety, solids, liquids and gasses, supercritical reacting fluids, and soot formation;
  • Materials science: solidification in metal and alloys, crystal growth, electronic materials, glasses and ceramics;
  • Complex Fluids: colloidal systems, liquid crystals, polymer flows, foams and granular flows; and
  • Fundamental Physics: critical point phenomena, atom interferometry and atomic clocks in space.

 

Implementing Centers: NASA's Physical Sciences Research Program is carried out at the Glenn Research Center (GRC), Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC).  Further information on physical sciences research is available at http://issresearchproject.nasa.gov/

Engineering Research

  • Spacecraft: Guidance, navigation and control; thermal; electrical; structures; software; avionics; displays; high speed re-entry; modeling; power systems; interoperability/commonality; advanced spacecraft materials; crew/vehicle health monitoring; life support.
  • Propulsion: Propulsion methods that will utilize materials found on the moon or Mars, “green” propellants, on-orbit propellant storage, motors, testing, fuels, manufacturing, soft landing, throttle-able propellants, high performance, and descent.
  • Robotic Systems for Precursor Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) Missions: Navigation and proximity operations systems; hazard detection; techniques for interacting and anchoring with Near Earth Asteroids; methods of remote and interactive characterization of Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) environments, composition and structural properties; robotics (specifically environmental scouting prior to human arrival and later to assist astronauts with NEA exploration); environmental analysis; radiation protection; spacecraft autonomy, enhanced methods of NEA characterization from earth-based observation.
  • Robotic Systems for Lunar Precursor Missions:  Precision landing and hazard avoidance hardware and software; high-bandwidth communication; in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) and prospecting; navigation systems; robotics (specifically environmental scouting prior to human arrival, and to assist astronaut with surface exploration); environmental analysis, radiation protection.
  • Data and Visualization Systems for Exploration: Area focus on turning precursor mission data into meaningful engineering knowledge for system design and mission planning of lunar surface and NEAs.  Visualization and data display; interactive data manipulation and sharing; mapping and data layering including coordinate transformations for irregular shaped NEAs;  modeling of lighting and thermal environments; simulation of environmental interactions including proximity operations in irregular micro-G gravity fields and physical stability of weakly bound NEAs.
  • Research and technology development areas in HEOMD support launch vehicles, space communications, and the International Space Station. Examples of research and technology development areas (and the associated lead NASA Center) with great potential include:
  • Processing and Operations 
    • Crew Health and Safety Including Medical Operations (Johnson Space Center (JSC))
    • In-helmet Speech Audio Systems and Technologies (Glenn Research Center (GRC))  
    • Vehicle Integration and Ground Processing (Kennedy Space Center (KSC)) 
    • Mission Operations (Ames Research Center (ARC)) 
    • Portable Life Support Systems (JSC)
    • Pressure Garments and Gloves (JSC)
    • Air Revitalization Technologies (ARC)
    • In-Space Waste Processing Technologies (JSC)
    • Cryogenic Fluids Management Systems (GRC)
  • Space Communications and Navigation
  • Coding, Modulation, and Compression (Goddard Spaceflight Center  (GSFC)
  • Precision Spacecraft & Lunar/Planetary Surface Navigation and Tracking (GSFC)
  • Communication for Space-Based Range (GSFC)  
  • Antenna Technology (Glenn Research Center (GRC)) 
  • Reconfigurable/Reprogrammable Communication Systems (GRC)
  • Miniaturized Digital EVA Radio  (JSC)  
  • Transformational Communications Technology (GRC) 
  • Long Range Optical Telecommunications (Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL))  
  • Long Range Space RF Telecommunications (JPL) 
  • Surface Networks and Orbit Access Links (GRC)  
  • Software for Space Communications Infrastructure Operations (JPL)
  • TDRS transponders for launch vehicle applications that support space communication and launch services (GRC)
  • Space Transportation 
    • Optical Tracking and Image Analysis (KSC)
    • Space Transportation Propulsion System and Test Facility Requirements and Instrumentation (Stennis Space Center (SSC)  
    • Automated Collection and Transfer of Launch Range Surveillance/Intrusion Data (KSC)
    • Technology tools to assess secondary payload capability with launch vehicles (KSC)
    • Spacecraft Charging/Plasma Interactions (Environment definition & arcing mitigation) (Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC)

 

A.3 Science Mission Directorate (SMD) leads the Agency in four areas of research: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Planetary Science, and Astrophysics. SMD, using the vantage point of space to achieve with the science community and our partners a deep scientific understanding of our planet, other planets and solar system bodies, the interplanetary environment, the Sun and its effects on the solar system, and the universe beyond. In so doing, we lay the intellectual foundation for the robotic and human expeditions of the future while meeting today's needs for scientific information to address national concerns, such as climate change and space weather. SMD's high-level strategic objectives are presented in the 2018 NASA Strategic Plan. Detailed plans by science area corresponding to the science divisions of SMD: Heliophysics, Earth Science, Planetary Science, and Astrophysics appear in Chapter 4 of the 2014 NASA Science Plan. The best expression of specific research topics of interest to each Division within SMD are represented in by the topics listed in SMD's "ROSES" research solicitation, see Table 3 of ROSES-2019 and the text in the Division research overviews of ROSES, i.e., the Earth Science Research Overview, the Heliophysics Division Overview, the Planetary Science Research Program Overview and the Astrophysics Research Program Overview. Please note, even if particular topic is not solicited in ROSES this year it is still a topic of interest and eligible for this solicitation. Additional information about the Science Mission Directorate may be found at: http://nasascience.nasa.gov.

 

SMD POC: Kristen Erickson kristen.erickson@nasa.gov

 

 

 

Heliophysics Division

Heliophysics encompasses science that improves our understanding of fundamental physical processes throughout the solar system, and enables us to understand how the Sun, as the major driver of the energy throughout the solar system, impacts our technological society. The scope of heliophysics is vast, spanning from the Sun's interior to Earth’s upper atmosphere, throughout interplanetary space, to the edges of the heliosphere, where the solar wind interacts with the local interstellar medium. Heliophysics incorporates studies of the interconnected elements in a single system that produces dynamic space weather and that evolves in response to solar, planetary, and interstellar conditions.

The Agency’s strategic objective for heliophysics is to understand the Sun and its interactions with Earth and the solar system, including space weather.  The heliophysics decadal survey conducted by the National Research Council (NRC), Solar and Space Physics: A Science for a Technological Society (http://www.nap.edu/catalog/13060/solar-and-space-physics-a-science-for-a-technological-society), articulates the scientific challenges for this field of study and recommends a slate of design reference missions to meet them, to culminate in the achievement of a predictive capability to aid human endeavors on Earth and in space. The fundamental science questions are:

  • What causes the Sun to vary?
  • How do the geospace, planetary space environments and the heliosphere respond?
  • What are the impacts on humanity?

To answer these questions, the Heliophysics Division implements a program to achieve three overarching goals:

  • Explore the physical processes in the space environment from the Sun to the Earth and throughout the solar system
  • Advance our understanding of the connections that link the Sun, the Earth, planetary space environment, and the outer reaches of our solar system
  • Develop the knowledge and capability to detect and predict extreme conditions in space to protect life and society and to safeguard human and robotic explorers beyond Earth

 

Further information on the objectives and goals of NASA's Heliophysics Program may be found in the 2014 Science Plan and Our Dynamic Space Environment: Heliophysics Science and Technology Roadmap for 2014-2033 (download PDF). The Heliophysics research program is described in Chapter 4.1 of the SMD Science Plan 2014 available at http://science.nasa.gov/about-us/science-strategy/. The program supports theory, modeling, and data analysis utilizing remote sensing and in situ measurements from a fleet of missions; the Heliophysics System Observatory (HSO). Frequent CubeSats, suborbital rockets, balloons, and ground-based instruments add to the observational base. Investigations that develop new observables and technologies for heliophysics science are sought.

Supported research activities include projects that address understanding of the Sun and planetary space environments, including the origin, evolution, and interactions of space plasmas and electromagnetic fields throughout the heliosphere. The program seeks to characterize these phenomena on a broad range of spatial and temporal scales, to understand the fundamental processes that drive them, to understand how these processes combine to create space weather events, and to enable a capability for predicting future space weather events. 

The program supports investigations of the Sun, including processes taking place throughout the solar interior and atmosphere and the evolution and cyclic activity of the Sun. It supports investigations of the origin and behavior of the solar wind, energetic particles, and magnetic fields in the heliosphere and their interaction with the Earth and other planets, as well as with the interstellar medium.

The program also supports investigations of the physics of magnetospheres, including their formation and fundamental interactions with plasmas, fields, and particles and the physics of the terrestrial mesosphere, thermosphere, ionosphere, and auroras, including the coupling of these phenomena to the lower atmosphere and magnetosphere. Proposers may also review the information in the ROSES-19 Heliophysics Division Overview for further information about the Heliophysics Research Program.

 

Earth Science Division

Our planet is changing on all spatial and temporal scales and studying the Earth as a complex system is essential to understanding the causes and consequences of global change. The Earth Science Division of the Science Mission Directorate (https://science.nasa.gov/earth-science) contributes to NASA's mission, in particular, Strategic Objective 1.1: Understanding The Sun, Earth, Solar System, And Universe. This strategic objective is motivated by the following key questions:

  • How is the global Earth system changing?
  • What causes these changes in the Earth system?
  • How will the Earth system change in the future?
  • How can Earth system science provide societal benefit?

These science questions translate into seven overarching science goals to guide the Earth Science Division’s selection of investigations and other programmatic decisions:

  • Advance the understanding of changes in the Earth’s radiation balance, air quality, and the ozone layer that result from changes in atmospheric composition (Atmospheric Composition)
  • Improve the capability to predict weather and extreme weather events (Weather)
  • Detect and predict changes in Earth’s ecosystems and biogeochemical cycles, including land cover, biodiversity, and the global carbon cycle (Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems)
  • Enable better assessment and management of water quality and quantity to accurately predict how the global water cycle evolves in response to climate change (Water and Energy Cycle)
  • Improve the ability to predict climate changes by better understanding the roles and interactions of the ocean, atmosphere, land and ice in the climate system (Climate Variability and Change)
  • Characterize the dynamics of Earth’s surface and interior, improving the capability to assess and respond to natural hazards and extreme events (Earth Surface and Interior)
  • Further the use of Earth system science research to inform decisions and provide benefits to society

The most recent decadal survey (2017-2027) from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, Thriving on our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space, serves as a foundational document to guide the overall approach to the Earth science program (see https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24938/thriving-on-our-changing-planet-a-decadal-strategy-for-earth).

 

NASA’s ability to view the Earth from a global perspective enables it to provide a broad, integrated set of uniformly high-quality data covering all parts of the planet.  NASA shares this unique knowledge with the global community, including members of the science, government, industry, education, and policy-maker communities.

 

Planetary Science Division

The Planetary Science Research Program, managed by the Planetary Science Division, sponsors research that addresses the broad strategic objective to "Ascertain the content, origin, and evolution of the Solar System and the potential for life elsewhere." To pursue this objective, the Planetary Science Division has five science goals that guide the focus of the division's science research and technology development activities. As described in Chapter 4.3 of the SMD 2014 Science Plan (https://science.nasa.gov/about-us/science-strategy), these are:

  • Explore and observe the objects in the Solar System to understand how they formed and evolve.
  • Advance the understanding of how the chemical and physical processes in the Solar System operate, interact and evolve.
  • Explore and find locations where life could have existed or could exist today.
  • Improve our understanding of the origin and evolution of life on Earth to guide our search for life elsewhere.
  • Identify and characterize objects in the Solar System that pose threats to Earth or offer resources for human exploration.

In order to address these goals, the Planetary Research Program invites a wide range of planetary science and astrobiology investigations. Example topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Investigations aimed at understanding the formation and evolution of the Solar System and (exo) planetary systems in general, and of the planetary bodies, satellites, and small bodies in these systems;
  • Investigations aimed at understanding materials present, and processes occurring, in the early stages of Solar System history, including the protoplanetary disk;
  • Investigations aimed at understanding planetary differentiation processes;
  • Investigations of extraterrestrial materials, including meteorites, cosmic dust, presolar grains, and samples returned by the Apollo, Stardust, Genesis, and Hayabusa missions;
  • Investigations of the properties of planets, satellites (including the Moon), satellite and ring systems, and smaller Solar System bodies such as asteroids and comets;
  • Investigations of the coupling of a planetary body’s intrinsic magnetic field, atmosphere, surface, and interior with each other, with other planetary bodies, and with the local plasma environment;
  • Investigations into the origins, evolution, and properties of the atmospheres of planetary bodies (including satellites, small bodies, and exoplanets);
  • Investigations that use knowledge of the history of the Earth and the life upon it as a guide for determining the processes and conditions that create and maintain habitable environments and to search for ancient and contemporary habitable environments and explore the possibility of extant life beyond the Earth;
  • Investigations into the origin and early evolution of life, the potential of life to adapt to different environments, and the implications for life elsewhere;
  • Investigations that provide the fundamental research and analysis necessary to characterize exoplanetary systems;
  • Investigations related to understanding the chemistry, astrobiology, dynamics, and energetics of exoplanetary systems;
  • Astronomical observations of our Solar System that contribute to the understanding of the nature and evolution of the Solar System and its individual constituents;
  • Investigations to inventory and characterize the population of Near Earth Objects (NEOs) or mitigate the risk of NEOs impacting the Earth;
  • Investigations into the potential for both forward and backward contamination during planetary exploration, methods to minimize such contamination, and standards in these areas for spacecraft preparation and operating procedures;
  • Investigations which enhance the scientific return of NASA Planetary Science Division missions through the analysis of data collected by those missions;
  • Advancement of laboratory- or spacecraft-based (including small satellites, e.g., CubeSats) instrument technology that shows promise for use in scientific investigations on future planetary missions; and
  • Analog studies, laboratory experiments, or fieldwork to increase our understanding of Solar System bodies or processes and/or to prepare for future missions.

Proposers may also review the information in the ROSES-2019 Planetary Science Research Program Overview for further information about the Planetary Science Research Program.

 

Astrophysics Division

Astrophysics is the study of phenomena occurring in the universe and of the physical principles that govern them. Astrophysics research encompasses a broad range of topics, from the birth of the universe and its evolution and composition, to the processes leading to the development of planets and stars and galaxies, to the physical conditions of matter in extreme gravitational fields, and to the search for life on planets orbiting other stars. In seeking to understand these phenomena, astrophysics science embodies some of the most enduring quests of humankind.

NASA's strategic objective in astrophysics is to discover how the universe works, explore how it began and evolved, and search for life on planets around other stars. Three broad scientific questions flow from this objective:

  • How does the universe work?
  • How did we get here?
  • Are we alone?

 

Each of these questions is accompanied by a science goal that shapes the Astrophysics Division’s efforts towards fulfilling NASA's strategic objective:

  • Probe the origin and destiny of our universe, including the nature of black holes, dark energy, dark matter and gravity
  • Explore the origin and evolution of the galaxies, stars and planets that make up our universe
  • Discover and study planets around other stars, and explore whether they could harbor life

 

The scientific priorities for astrophysics are outlined in the NRC decadal survey New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics (http://www.nap.edu/catalog/12951/new-worlds-new-horizons-in-astronomy-and-astrophysics).  These priorities include understanding the scientific principles that govern how the universe works; probing cosmic dawn by searching for the first stars, galaxies, and black holes; and seeking and studying nearby habitable planets around other stars.

The multidisciplinary nature of astrophysics makes it imperative to strive for a balanced science and technology portfolio, both in terms of science goals addressed and in missions to address these goals. All the facets of astronomy and astrophysics—from cosmology to planets—are intertwined, and progress in one area hinges on progress in others. However, in times of fiscal constraints, priorities for investments must be made to optimize the use of available funding. NASA uses the prioritized recommendations and decision rules of the decadal survey to set the priorities for its investments.

The broad themes of the Astrophysics Research Program are:

(i)  Physics of the Cosmos:

to discover how the universe works at the most fundamental level; to explore the behavior and interactions of the particles and fundamental forces of nature, especially their behavior under the extreme conditions found in astrophysical situations; and to explore the processes that shape the structure and composition of the universe as a whole, including the forces which drove the Big Bang and continue to drive the accelerated expansion of the universe.

(ii)  Cosmic Origins:

to discover how the universe expanded and evolved from an extremely hot and dense state into the galaxies of stars, gas, and dust that we observe around us today; to discover how dark matter clumped under gravity into the tapestry of large-scale filaments and structures which formed the cosmic web for the formation of galaxies and clusters of galaxies; to discover how stars and planetary systems form within the galaxies; and to discover how these complex systems create and shape the structure and composition of the universe on all scales.

(iii)  Exoplanet Exploration:

to search for planets and planetary systems about nearby stars in our Galaxy; to determine the properties of those stars that harbor planetary systems; to determine the percentage of planets that are in or near the habitable zone of a wide variety of stars, and identify candidates that could harbor life.

(iv) Research Analysis and Technology Development:

a vital component of the astrophysics program is the development of new techniques that can be applied to future major missions:  the test-beds for these new techniques are the balloons and rockets that are developed and launched from NASA’s launch range facilities.

This program also supports technology development that includes detectors covering all wavelengths and fundamental particles, as well as studies in laboratory astrophysics. Examples of these studies could include atomic and molecular data and properties of plasmas explored under conditions approximating those of astrophysical environments.

Investigations submitted to the Astrophysics research program should explicitly support past, present, or future NASA astrophysics missions. These investigations can include theory, simulation, data analysis, and technology development. The Astrophysics research program and missions are described in Chapter 4.4 of the SMD 2014 Science Plan available at https://science.nasa.gov/about-us/science-strategy.

Proposers may also review the information in the ROSES-19 Astrophysics Research Program Overview for further information about the Astrophysics Research Program.

A.4 The Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) is responsible for developing the crosscutting, pioneering, new technologies, and capabilities needed by the agency to achieve its current and future missions.

 

STMD rapidly develops, demonstrates, and infuses revolutionary, high-payoff technologies through transparent, collaborative partnerships, expanding the boundaries of the aerospace enterprise. STMD employs a merit-based competition model with a portfolio approach, spanning a range of discipline areas and technology readiness levels. By investing in bold, broadly applicable, disruptive technology that industry cannot tackle today, STMD seeks to mature the technology required for NASA’s future missions in science and exploration while proving the capabilities and lowering the cost for other government agencies and commercial space activities.

 

Research and technology development takes place within NASA Centers, at JPL, in academia and industry, and leverages partnerships with other government agencies and international partners. STMD engages and inspires thousands of technologists and innovators creating a community of our best and brightest working on the nation’s toughest challenges. By pushing the boundaries of technology and innovation, STMD allows NASA and our nation to remain at the cutting edge. Additional information on STMD can be found

at:  (http://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/about_us/index.html ).

 

Areas of Interest – POC:  Damian.Taylor@nasa.gov

 

Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) expands the boundaries of the aerospace enterprise by rapidly developing, demonstrating, and infusing revolutionary, high-payoff technologies through collaborative partnerships. STMD employs a merit-based competition model with a portfolio approach, spanning a wide range of space technology discipline areas and technology readiness levels. Research and technology development takes place at NASA Centers, academia, and industry, and leverages partnerships with other government agencies and international partners.

 

STMD plans future investments to support the following strategic thrusts:

  • Go: Rapid, Safe, & Efficient Space Transportation
    • Provide safe, affordable, and routine access to space
    • Provide cost-efficient, reliable propulsion for long duration missions
    • Enable significantly faster, more efficient deep space missions
  • Land: Expanded Access to Diverse Surface Destinations
    • Safely and precisely deliver humans & payloads to planetary surfaces
    • Increase access to high-value science sites across the solar system
    • Provide efficient, highly-reliable sample return reentry capability
  • Live: Sustainable Living and Working Farther from Earth
    • Provide in-space habitation and enable humans to live on other planets
    • Provide efficient/scalable infrastructure to support exploration at scale
    • Providing ability to safely explore and investigate high-value sites
  • Explore: Transformative Missions and Discoveries
    • Expand access to new environments, sites, and resources
    • Develop new means of observation, exploration, and characterization
    • Enable new mission operations and increased science data

 

 

Current space technology topics of particular interest include:

 

  • Methods for space and in space manufacturing
  • Autonomous in-space assembly of structures and spacecraft
  • Ultra-lightweight materials for space applications
  • Materials, structures and mechanisms for extreme environments (low and high temperatures, radiation, etc.).
  • Resource prospecting, mining, excavation, and extraction of in situ resources. Efficient in situ resource utilization to produce items required for long-duration deep space missions including fuels, water, oxygen, food, nutritional supplements, pharmaceuticals, building materials, polymers (plastics), and various other chemicals
  • High performance space computing
  • Smart habitats
  • Extreme environment (including cryogenic) electronics for planetary exploration
  • Advanced robotics for extreme environment sensing, mobility, manipulation and repair
  • Advanced power generation, storage, and distribution for deep space missions and surface operations
  • Advanced entry, decent, and landing systems for planetary exploration including materials response models and parachute models
  • Radiation modeling, detection and mitigation for deep space crewed missions
  • Biological approaches to environmental control, life support systems and manufacturing
  • Autonomous systems for deep space missions
  • Low size, weight, and power components for small spacecraft including high-bandwidth communication from space to ground, inter-satellite communication, relative navigation and control for swarms and constellations, precise pointing systems, power generation and energy storage, thermal management, system autonomy, miniaturized instruments and sensors, and in-space propulsion
  • Technologies that take advantage of small launch vehicles and small spacecraft to conduct more rapid and lower-cost missions
  • Advancements in engineering tools and models that support Space Technology advancement and development

 

Applicants are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with the roadmap document most closely aligned with their space technology interests. The roadmap documents may be downloaded at the following link: http://www.nasa.gov/offices/oct/home/roadmaps/index.html. Please note, however, that the 2015 technology taxonomy (outline structure for the roadmaps) currently found under this link is under revision. The 2020 revised technology taxonomy will be uploaded by 30 September 2019 under the same link.  

 

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) current year version of the NASA Research Announcement (NRA) entitled, "Space Technology Research, Development, Demonstration, and Infusion” has been posted on the NSPIRES web site at http://nspires.nasaprs.com (select “Solicitations” and then “Open Solicitations”). The NRA provides detailed information on specific proposals being sought across STMD program.

A.5 NASA Centers Areas of Interest

Examples of Center research interest areas include these specific areas from the following Centers.  If no POC is listed in the Center write-up and contact information is needed, please contact the POC listed in Appendix D for that Center and request contacts for the research area of interest.

A.5.1 Ames Research Center (ARC), POC: Brenda Collins (brenda.j.collins@nasa.gov)

Ames research Center enables exploration through selected development, innovative technologies, and interdisciplinary scientific discovery. Ames provides leadership in the following areas: astrobiology; small satellites; entry decent and landing systems; supercomputing; robotics and autonomous systems; life Sciences and environmental controls; and air traffic management. 

Additional Center core competencies include:

  • Space Sciences
  • Applied Aerospace and Information Technology
  • Biotechnology
  • Synthetic biology.
  • Biological Sciences
  • Earth Sciences
  • High Performance Computing, 
  • Intelligent Systems
  • Quantum Computing
  • Nanotechnology-electronics and sensors.
  • Small Spacecraft and Cubesats
  • Airspace Systems
  • Augmented Reality
  • Digital materials

A.5.2 Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC), POC: Dave Berger, dave.e.berger@nasa.gov

Autonomy (Collision Avoidance, Separation assurance, formation flight, peak seeking control)

(POC: Jack Ryan, AFRC-RC)

  • Adaptive Control

(POC: Curt Hanson, AFRC-RC)

  • Hybrid Electric Propulsion

(POC: Starr Ginn, AFRC-R)

  • Control of Flexible Structures using distributed sensor feedback

(POC: Marty Brenner, AFRC-RS; Peter Suh, AFRC-RC)

  • Supersonic Research (Boom mitigation and measurement)

(POC: Ed Haering, AFRC-RA)

  • Supersonic Research (Laminar Flow)

(POC: Dan Banks, AFRC-RA)

  • Environmental Responsive Aviation

(POC: Mark Mangelsdorf, AFRC-RS)

  • Hypersonic Structures & Sensors

(POC: Larry Hudson, AFRC-RS)

  • Large Scale Technology Flight Demonstrations (Towed Glider)

(POC: Steve Jacobson, AFRC-RC)

  • Aerodynamics and Lift Distribution Optimization to Reduce Induced Drag

(POC: Al Bowers, AFRC-R)

A.5.3 Glenn Research Center (GRC), POC: Mark David Kankam, Ph.D. mark.d.kankam@nasa.gov

Research and technology, and engineering engagements comprise including:

  • Acoustics / Propulsion Acoustics
  • Advanced Energy (Renewable Wind and Solar, Coal Energy and Alternative Energy)
  • Advanced Microwave Communications
  • Aeronautical and Space Systems Analysis
  • Electrified Aircraft
  • Computer Systems and Networks
  • Electric (Ion) Propulsion
  • Icing and Cryogenic Systems/Engine and Airframe Icing
  • Instrumentation, Controls and Electronics
  • Fluids, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and Turbomachinery
  • Materials and Structures, including Mechanical Components and Lubrication
  • Microgravity Fluid Physics, Combustion Phenomena and Bioengineering
  • Nanotechnology
  • Photovoltaics, Electrochemistry-Physics, and Thermal Energy Conversion
  • Propulsion System Aerodynamics
  • Space Power Generation, Storage, Distribution and Management
  • Urban Air Mobility (UAM)
  • Systems Engineering

The above engagement areas relate to the following key Glenn Areas of Expertise:

  • Aircraft Propulsion
  • Communications Technology and Development
  • Space Propulsion and Cryogenic Fluids Management
  • Power, Energy Storage and Conversion
  • Materials and Structures for Extreme Environment
  • Physical Sciences and Biomedical Technologies in Space

 

A.5.4 Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), POC: James Harrington james.l.harrington@nasa.gov

 

Applied Engineering and Technology Directorate: POC: Danielle Margiotta, Danielle.V.Margiotta@nasa.gov

 

  • Advanced Manufacturing- facilitates the development, evaluation, and deployment of efficient and flexible additive manufacturing technologies. (ref: org)
  • Advanced Multi-functional Systems and Structures- novel approaches to increase spacecraft systems resource utilization
  • Micro - and Nanotechnology - Based Detector Systems- research and application of these technologies to increase the efficiency of detector and optical systems
  • Ultra-miniature Spaceflight Systems and Instruments- miniaturization approaches from multiple disciplines - materials, mechanical, electrical, software, and optical - to achieve substantial resource reductions
  • Systems Robust to Extreme Environments- materials and design approaches that will preserve designed system properties and operational parameters (e.g. mechanical, electrical, thermal), and enable reliable systems operations in hostile space environments.
  • Spacecraft Navigation Technologies
    • Spacecraft GNSS receivers, ranging crosslink transceivers, and relative navigation sensors
    • Optical navigation and satellite laser ranging
    • Deep-space autonomous navigation techniques
    • Software tools for spacecraft navigation ground operations and navigation analysis
    • Formation Flying
  • Automated Rendezvous and Docking (AR&D) techniques
    • Algorithm development
    • Pose estimation for satellite servicing missions
    • Sensors (e.g., LiDARs, natural feature recognition)
    • Actuation (e.g., micro propulsion, electromagnetic formation flying)
  • Mission and Trajectory Design Technologies 
    • Mission design tools that will enable new mission classes (e.g., low thrust planetary missions, precision formation flying missions)
    • Mission design tools that reduce the costs and risks of current mission design methodologies
    • Trajectory design techniques that enable integrated optimal designs across multiple orbital dynamic regimes (i.e. earth orbiting, earth-moon libration point, sun-earth libration point, interplanetary) 
  • Spacecraft Attitude Determination and Control Technologies
    • Modeling, simulation, and advanced estimation algorithms
    • Advanced spacecraft attitude sensor technologies (e.g., MEMS IMU’s, precision optical trackers)
    • Advanced spacecraft actuator technologies (e.g. modular and scalable momentum control devices, ‘green’ propulsion, micropropulsion, low power electric propulsion)
  • CubeSats- Participating institutions will develop CubeSat/Smallsat components, technologies and systems to support NASA technology demonstration and risk reduction efforts. Student teams will develop miniature CubeSat/Smallsat systems for: power generation and distribution, navigation, communication, on-board computing, structures (fixed and deployable), orbital stabilization, pointing, and de-orbiting.  These components, technologies and systems shall be made available for use by NASA for integration into NASA Cubesat/Smallsats. They may be integrated into complete off-the-shelf “CubeSat/Smallsat bus” systems, with a goal of minimizing “bus” weight/power/volume/cost and maximizing available “payload” weight/power/volume.  NASA technologists will then use these components/systems to develop payloads that demonstrate key technologies to prove concepts and/or reduce risks for future Earth Science, Space Science and Exploration/Robotic Servicing missions. POC:  Thomas P. Flatley (P.Flatley@nasa.gov).
  • On-Orbit Multicore Computing- High performance multicore processing for advanced automation and science data processing on spacecraft. There are multiple multicore processing platforms in development that are being targeted for the next generation of science and exploration missions, but there is little work in the area of software frameworks and architectures to utilize these platforms. It is proposed that research in the areas of efficient inter-core communications, software partitioning, fault detection, isolation & recovery, memory management, core power management, scheduling algorithms, and software frameworks be done to enable a transition to these newer platforms. Participating institutions can select areas to research and work with NASA technologists to develop and prototype the resulting concepts.  POC:  Alan Cudmore (p.cudmore@nasa.gov).
  • Integrated Photonic components and systems-  Integrated photonic components and systems for Sensors, Spectrometers, Chemical/biological sensors, Microwave, Sub-millimeter and Long-Wave Infra-Red photonics, Telecom- inter and intra satellite communications.  
  • Radiation Effects and Analysis
    • Flight validation of advanced event rate prediction techniques
    • New approaches for testing and evaluating 3-D integrated microcircuits and other advanced microelectronic devices
    • End-to-end system (e.g., integrated component level or higher) modeling of radiation effects
    • Statistical approaches to tackle radiation hardness assurance (i.e., total dose, displacement damage, and/or single-event effects) for high-risk, low-cost missions.

 

Sciences and Exploration Directorate POC:  Blanche Meeson, Blanche.W.Meeson@nasa.gov

The Sciences and Exploration Directorate at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (http://science.gsfc.nasa.gov) is the largest Earth and space science research organization in the world. Its scientists advance understanding of the Earth and its life-sustaining environment, the Sun, the solar system, and the wider universe beyond.  All are engaged in the full life cycle of satellite missions and instruments from concept development to implementation, analysis and application of the scientific information, and community access and services.

  • The Earth Sciences Division plans, organizes, evaluates, and implements a broad program of research on our planet's natural systems and processes. Major focus areas include climate change, severe weather, the atmosphere, the oceans, sea ice and glaciers, and the land surface. To study the planet from the unique perspective of space, the Earth Science Division develops and operates remote-sensing satellites and instruments. We analyze observational data from these spacecraft and make it available to the world's scientists and policy makers.     The Division conducts extensive field campaigns to gather data from the surface and airborne platforms.  The Division also develops, uses, and assimilates observations into models that simulate planetary processes involving the water, energy, and carbon cycles at multiple scales up to global.  POC:  Eric Brown de Colstoun (eric.c.browndecolsto@nasa.gov).
  • The Astrophysics Science Division conducts a broad program of research in astronomy, astrophysics, and fundamental physics. Individual investigations address issues such as the nature of dark matter and dark energy, which planets outside our solar system may harbor life, and the nature of space, time, and matter at the edges of black holes. Observing photons, particles, and gravitational waves enables researchers to probe astrophysical objects and processes. Researchers develop theoretical models, design experiments and hardware to test theories, and interpret and evaluate observational data.  POC:  Amber Straughn (Amber.n.Straughn@nasa.gov).
  • The Heliophysics Science Division conducts research on the Sun, its extended solar-system environment (the heliosphere), and interactions of Earth, other planets, small bodies, and interstellar gas with the heliosphere. Division research also encompasses Geospace, Earth's magnetosphere and its outer atmosphere, and Space Weather—the important effects that heliospheric disturbances have on spacecraft and terrestrial systems. Division scientists develop spacecraft missions and instruments, systems to manage and disseminate heliophysical data, and theoretical and computational models to interpret the data. Possible heliophysics-related research include:  advanced software environments and data-mining strategies to collect, collate and analyze data relevant to the Sun and its effects on the solar system and the Earth (“space weather”); and advanced computational techniques, including but not limited to parallel architectures and the effective use of graphics processing units, for the simulation of magnetized and highly dynamic plasmas and neutral gases in the heliosphere.  POC:  Doug Rabin (Douglas.Rabin@nasa.gov).
  • The Solar System Exploration Division builds science instruments and conducts theoretical and experimental research to explore the solar system and understand the formation and evolution of planetary systems. Laboratories within the division investigate areas as diverse as astrochemistry, planetary atmospheres, extrasolar planetary systems, earth science, planetary geodynamics, space geodesy, and comparative planetary studies. To study how planetary systems form and evolve, division scientists develop theoretical models as well as the investigations and space instruments to test them. The researchers participate in planetary and Earth science missions, and collect, interpret, and evaluate measurements.  POC:  Lora Bleacher (Lora.V.Bleacher@nasa.gov).
  • Quantum computing: Quantum computing is based on quantum bits or qubits. Unlike traditional computers, in which bits must have a value of either zero or one, a qubit can represent a zero, a one, or both values simultaneously. Representing information in qubits allows the information to be processed in ways that have no equivalent in classical computing, taking advantage of phenomena such as quantum tunneling and quantum entanglement. As such, quantum computers may theoretically be able to solve certain problems in a few days that would take millions of years on a classical computer..
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning: Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a collection of advanced technologies that allows machines to think and act, both humanly and rationally, through sensing, comprehending, acting and learning. AI's foundations lie at the intersection of several traditional fields - Philosophy, Mathematics, Economics, Neuroscience, Psychology and Computer Science. Current AI applications include big data analytics, robotics, intelligent sensing, assisted decision making, and speech recognition just to name a few
  • (Big) data analytics: Data Analytics, including Data Mining and Pattern Recognition for Science applications and with special emphasis on:
    • Quantification of uncertainty in inference from big data
    • Experiment design to create data that is AI/ML ready and robust against misleading correlations
    • Methods for prediction of new discovery spaces
    • Strength of evidence and reproducibility in inference from big data

 

Scientists in all four divisions publish research results in the peer-reviewed literature, participate in the archiving and pubic dissemination of scientific data, and provide expert user support.

 

A.5.5 Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)

POC: Linda Rodgers, linda.l.rodgers@jpl.nasa.gov

Petra Kneissl, petra.a.kneissl-milanian@jpl.nasa.gov

A.5.6 Johnson Space Center (JSC), POC: Kamlesh Lulla, kamlesh.p.lulla@nasa.gov

  • In-space propulsion technologies
  • Energy Storage technologies-Batteries, Fuel cells
  • Robotics and TeleRobotics
  • Crew decision support systems
  • Immersive Visualization
  • Virtual windows leading to immersive environments and telepresence systems
  • Human Robotic interface
  • Flight and Ground communication systems
  • Audio
  • Adaptive-environment Array Microphone Systems and processing
  • Large bandwidth (audio to ultra-sonic) MEMs Microphones
  • Front end audio noise cancellation algorithms implementable in FPGAs-example Independent Component Analysis
  • Audio Compression algorithms implementable in FPGAs.
  • COMSOL Acoustic modeling
  • Sonification Algorithms implementable in DSPs/FPGAs
  • Video
  • Ultra High Video Compressions
  • H265 Video Compression
  • Rad-Tolerant Imagers
  • Lightweight/low power/radiation tolerant displays
  • Advanced habitat systems
  • GN&C for descent systems
  • Large body GN&C
  • Human-in-the-loop system data acquisition and performance modeling
  • Imaging and information processing
  • Lightweight/Low power Display Technology
  • Scalable software-implementable graphics processing unit
  • Simulation and modeling
  • Materials and structures
  • Lightweight structure
  • Human Spaceflight Challenges
  • http://humanresearchroadmap.nasa.gov/explore
  • Human System Interfaces
  • OLED Technology Evaluation for Space Applications
  • Far-Field Speech Recognition in Noisy Environments
  • Radiation-Tolerant/ Hardened Graphics Processing
  • Machine-Learning human interfaces and methods
  • Human Computer Interaction design methods (Multi-modal and Intelligent Interaction) and apparatuses
  • Human Systems Integration, Human Factors Engineering: state of the art in Usability and performance assessment methods and apparatus.
  • Humans Systems Integration Inclusion in Systems Engineering
  • ECLSS
  • Air Revitalization
  • Advanced water, O2 and CO2 monitoring and sensors
  • Advance thermally regenerated ionic fluids for CO2 and Humidity Control
  • Water Recovery and Management
  • Brine water recovery systems and wastewater treatment chemical recover for reuse or repurpose
  • Waste Management
  • Advance wastewater treatment systems (lower toxicity, recoverable)
  • Advanced trace contaminant monitoring and control technology
  • Quiet fan technologies
  • Active Thermal Control
  • Lightweight heat exchangers and cold plates
  • Condensing heat exchanger coatings with robust hydrophilic, antimicrobial properties
  • Development and demonstration of wax and water-based phase change material heat exchangers
  • EVA
  • Pressure Garment
  • Portable Life Support System
  • Power, Avionics and Software
  • Autonomous Rendezvous and Docking
  • Crew Exercise
  • Small form Equipment
  • Biomechanics
  • EDL (thermal)
  • Wireless and Comm Systems
  • Wireless Energy Harvesting Sensor Technologies
  • Robust, Dynamic Ad hoc Wireless Mesh Communication Networks
  • Radiation Hardened EPCglobal Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Readers
  • Computational Electromagnetics (CEM) Fast and Multi-Scale Methods/Algorithms
  • EPCglobal-type RFID ICs at frequencies above 2 G
  • Radiation and EEE Parts
  • Monitoring
  • Mitigation and Biological countermeasures
  • Protection systems
  • Space weather prediction
  • Risk assessment modeling
  • Wearable Tech
  • Wearable Sensors and Controls
  • Wearable far-field Audio Communicator
  • Wearable sensing and hands-free control
  • Tattooed Electronic Sensors
  • In-Situ Resource Utilization
  • Mars atmosphere processing
  • CO2 collection, dust filtering, Solid Oxide CO2 electrolysis, Sabatier
  • Reverse water gas shift
  • Lunar/Mars regolith processing
  • Regolith collection and drying
  • Water collection and processing, water electrolysis (PEM and Solid Oxide)
  • Carbothermal reduction of regolith
  • Solar concentrator heat collection
  • Methane/Oxygen liquefaction and storage

A.5.7 Kennedy Space Center (KSC),by Roadmap Technical Area (TA), POC Jose Nunez, jose.l.nunez@nasa.gov

  • HEOMD – Commercial Crew systems development and ISS payload and flight experiments
  • Environmental and Green Technologies
  • Health and Safety Systems for Operations
  • Communications and Tracking Technologies
  • Robotic, automated and autonomous systems and operations
  • Payload Processing & Integration Technologies (all class payloads)
  • R&T Technologies on In-Space Platforms (e.g., ISS, Gateway, Human Habitats)
  • Damage-resistant and self-healing materials
  • Plant Research and Production
  • Water/nutrient recovery and management
  • Plant habitats and Flight Systems
  • Food production and waste management
  • Robotic, automated and autonomous food production
  • Robotic, automated and autonomous food production
  • Damage-resistant and self-healing materials
  • Automated and autonomous detection and repair
  • Propulsion: Chemical Propulsion flight integration (human transportation)
  • Space Environments Test: Right/West Altitude Chamber

NOTE:

The above R&T Focus Areas are described in the KSC R&T Portfolio Data Dictionary

 

A.5.8 Langley Research Center (LaRC), POC: Dr. Kimberly Brush, kimberly.m.brush@nasa.gov

  • Intelligent Flight Systems – Revolutionary Air Vehicles
    (POC:  Guy Kemmerly 757-864-5070) – retired, awaiting new POC
  • Atmospheric Characterization – Active Remote Sensing
    (POC:  Allen Larar 757.864.5328)
  • Systems Analysis and Concepts - Air Transportation System Architectures & Vehicle Concepts (POC:  Phil Arcara 757.864.5978)
  • Advanced Materials & Structural System – Advanced Manufacturing
    (POC:  David Dress 757-864-5126)
  • Aerosciences - Trusted Autonomy
    (POC: Sharon Graves 757-864-5018) –retired, awaiting new POC
  • Entry, Decent & Landing - Robotic Mission Entry Vehicles
    (POC:  Jeff Herath or Ron Merski)
  • Measurement Systems - Advanced Sensors and Optical Measurement
    (POC:  Tom Jones 757-864-4903)

 

A.5.9 Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), POC: Frank Six, frank.six@nasa.gov

Propulsion Systems

 

  • Launch Propulsion Systems, Solid & Liquid
  • In Space Propulsion (Cryogenics, Green Propellants, Nuclear, Fuel Elements, Solar-Thermal, Solar Sails, Tethers)
  • Propulsion Testbeds and Demonstrators (Pressure Systems)
  • Combustion Physics
  • Cryogenic Fluid Management
  • Turbomachinery
  • Rotordynamics
  • Solid Propellant Chemistry
  • Solid Ballistics
  • Rapid Affordable Manufacturing of Propulsion Components
  • Materials Research (Nano Crystalline Metallics, Diamond Film Coatings)
  • Materials Compatibility
  • Computational Fluid Dynamics
  • Unsteady Flow Environments
  • Acoustics and Stability
  • Low Leakage Valves

 

 

Space Systems

 

  • In Space Habitation (Life Support Systems and Nodes, 3D Printing)
  • Mechanical Design & Fabrication
  • Small Payloads (For International Space Station, Space Launch System)
  • In-Space Asset Management (Automated Rendezvous & Capture, De-Orbit, Orbital Debris Mitigation, Proximity Operations)
  • Radiation Shielding
  • Thermal Protection
  • Electromagnetic Interference
  • Advanced Communications
  • Small Satellite Systems (CubeSats)
  • Structural Modeling and Analysis
  • Spacecraft Design (CAD)

 

Space Transportation

 

  • Mission and Architecture Analysis
  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Space Environmental Effects and Space Weather
  • Lander Systems and Technologies
  • Small Spacecraft and Enabling Technologies (Nanolaunch Systems)
  • 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing/Rapid Prototyping
  • Meteoroid Environment
  • Friction Stir and Ultrasonic Welding
  • Advanced Closed-Loop Life Support Systems
  • Composites and Composites Manufacturing
  • Wireless Data & Comm. Systems
  • Ionic Liquids
  • Guidance, Navigation and Control (Autonomous, Small Launch Vehicle)
  • Systems Health Management
  • Martian Navigation Architecture/Systems
  • Planetary Environment Modeling
  • Autonomous Systems (reconfiguration, Mission Planning)
  • Digital Thread / Product Lifecycle Management (for AM and/or Composites)
  • Material Failure Diagnostics

 

Science

 

  • Replicated Optics
  • Large Optics (IR, visible, UV, X-Ray)
  • High Energy Astrophysics (X-Ray, Gamma Ray, Cosmic Ray)
  • Radiation Mitigation/Shielding
  • Gravitational Waves and their Electromagnetic Counterparts
  • Solar, Magnetospheric and Ionospheric Physics
  • Planetary Geology and Seismology
  • Planetary Dust, Space Physics and Remote Sensing
  • Surface, Atmospheres and Interior of Planetary Bodies
  • Earth Science Applications
  • Convective and Severe Storms Research
  • Lightning Research
  • Data Informatics
  • Disaster Monitoring
  • Energy and Water Cycle Research
  • Remote Sensing of Precipitation

 

A.5.9 Stennis Space Center (SSC), POC: Dr. Mitch Krell, email: mitch.krell@nasa.gov

  • Active and Passive Nonintrusive Remote Sensing of Propulsion Test Parameters
  • Intelligent Integrated System Health Management (ISHM) in Rocket Test-Stands
  • Advanced Non-Destructive Evaluation Technologies
  • Advanced Propulsion Systems Testing
  • Cryogenic Instrumentation and Cryogenic, High Pressure, and Ultrahigh Pressure Fluid Systems
  • Ground Test Facilities Technology
  • Propulsion System Exhaust Plume Flow Field Definition and Associated Plume Induced Acoustic & Thermal Environments
  • Vehicle Health Management/Rocket Exhaust Plume Diagnostics

 

Propulsion Testing

Active and Passive Nonintrusive Remote Sensing of Propulsion Test Parameters

The vast amount of propulsion system test data is collected via single channel, contact, intrusive sensors and instrumentation. Future propulsion system test techniques could employ passive nonintrusive remote sensors and active nonintrusive remote sensing test measurements over wide areas instead of at a few discrete points. Opportunities exist in temperature, pressure, stress, strain, position, vibration, shock, impact, and many other measured test parameters. The use of thermal infrared, ultraviolet, and multispectral sensors, imagers, and instruments is possible through the SSC sensor laboratory.

Intelligent Integrated System Health Management (ISHM) in Rocket Test-Stands

SHM is a capability to determine the condition of every element of a system continuously. ISHM includes detection of anomalies, diagnosis of causes, and prognosis of future anomalies; as well as making available (to elements of the system and the operator) data, information, and knowledge (DIaK) to achieve optimum operation. In this context, we are interested in methodologies to embed intelligence into the various elements of rocket engine test-stands, e.g., sensors, valves, pumps, tanks, etc. Of particular interest is the extraction of qualitative interpretations from sensor data in order to develop a qualitative assessment of the operation of the various components and processes in the system. The desired outcomes of the research are: (1) to develop intelligent sensor models that are self-calibrating, self- configuring, self- diagnosing, and self- evolving (2) to develop intelligent components such as valves, tanks, etc., (3) to implement intelligent sensor fusion schemes that allow assessment, at the qualitative level, of the condition of the components and processes, (4) to develop a monitoring and diagnostic system that uses the intelligent sensor models and fusion schemes to predict future events, to document the operation of the system, and to diagnose any malfunction quickly, (5) to develop architectures/taxonomies/ontologies for integrated system health management using distributed intelligent elements, and (6) to develop visualization and operator interfaces to effectively use the ISHM capability.

Advanced Non-Destructive Technologies

Advances in non-destructive evaluation (NDE) technologies are needed for fitness-for-service evaluation of pressure vessels used in rocket propulsion systems and test facilities. NDE of ultra- high pressure vessels with wall thicknesses exceeding 10 inches require advanced techniques for the detection of flaws that may affect the safe use of the vessels.

Advanced Propulsion Systems Testing

Innovative techniques will be required to test propulsion systems such as advanced chemical engines, single- stage-to-orbit rocket plane components, nuclear thermal, nuclear electric, and hybrids rockets. New and more cost- effective approaches must be developed to test future propulsion systems. The solution may be some combination of computational- analytical technique, advanced sensors and instrumentation, predictive methodologies, and possibly subscale tests of aspects of the proposed technology.

Cryogenic Instrumentation and Cryogenic, High Pressure, and Ultrahigh Pressure Fluid Systems

Over 40 tons of liquefied gases are used annually in the conduct of propulsion system testing at the Center. Instrumentation is needed to precisely measure mass flow of cryogens starting with very low flow rates and ranging to very high flow rates under pressures up to 15,000 psi. Research, technology, and development opportunities exist in developing instruments to measure fluid properties at cryogenic conditions during ground testing of space propulsion systems. Both intrusive and nonintrusive sensors, but especially nonintrusive sensors, are desired.

Ground Test Facilities Technology

SSC is interested in new, innovative ground-test techniques to conduct a variety of required developmental and certification tests for space systems, stages/vehicles, subsystems, and components. Examples include better coupling and integration of computational fluid dynamics and heat transfer modeling tools focused on cryogenic fluids for extreme conditions of pressure and flow; advanced control strategies for non- linear multi-variable systems; structural modeling tools for ground-test programs; low-cost, variable altitude simulation techniques; and uncertainty analysis modeling of test systems.

Propulsion System Exhaust Plume Flow Field Definition and Associated Plume Induced Acoustic & Thermal Environments

Background: An accurate definition of a propulsion system exhaust plume flow field and its associated plume induced environments (PIE) are required to support the design efforts necessary to safely and optimally accomplish many phases of any space flight mission from sea level or simulated altitude testing of a propulsion system to landing on and returning from the Moon or Mars. Accurately defined PIE result in increased safety, optimized design and minimized costs associated with: 1. propulsion system and/or component testing of both the test article and test facility; 2. any launch vehicle and associated launch facility during liftoff from the Earth, Moon or Mars; 3. any launch vehicle during the ascent portion of flight including staging, effects of separation motors and associated pitch maneuvers; 4. effects of orbital maneuverings systems (including contamination) on associated vehicles and/or payloads and their contribution to space environments; 5. Any vehicle intended to land on and return from the surface of the Moon or Mars; and finally 6. The effects of a vehicle propulsion system on the surfaces of the Moon and Mars including the contaminations of those surfaces by plume constituents and associated propulsion system constituents. Current technology status and requirements to optimally accomplish NASA s mission: In general, the current plume technology used to define a propulsion system exhaust plume flow field and its associated plume induced environments is far superior to that used in support of the original Space Shuttle design. However, further improvements of this technology are required: 1. in an effort to reduce conservatism in the current technology allowing greater optimization of any vehicle and/or payload design keeping in mind crew safety through all mission phases; and 2. to support the efforts to fill current critical technology gaps discussed below. PIE areas of particular interest include: single engine and multi-engine plume flow field definition for all phases of any space flight mission, plume induced acoustic environments, plume induced radiative and convective ascent vehicle base heating, plume contamination, and direct and/or indirect plume impingement effects. Current critical technology gaps in needed PIE capabilities include: 1. An accurate analytical prediction tool to define convective ascent vehicle base heating for both single engine and multi- engine vehicle configurations. 2. An accurate analytical prediction tool to define plume induced environments associated with advanced chemical, electrical and nuclear propulsion systems. 3. A validated, user friendly free molecular flow model for defining plumes and plume induced environments for low density external environments that exist on orbit, as well as interplanetary and other planets.

Vehicle Health Management/Rocket Exhaust Plume Diagnostics

A large body of UV-Visible emission spectrometry experimentation is being performed during the 30 or more tests conducted each year on the Space Shuttle Main Engine at SSC. Research opportunities are available to quantify failure and wear mechanisms, and related plume code validation. Related topics include combustion stability, mixture ratio, and thrust/power level. Exploratory studies have been done with emission/absorption spectroscopy, absorption resonance spectroscopy, and laser induced fluorescence. Only a relatively small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum has been investigated for use in propulsion system testing and exhaust plume diagnostics/vehicle health management.