The Science Mission Directorate (SMD) engages the Nation’s science community, sponsors scientific research, and develops and deploys satellites and probes in collaboration with NASA’s partners around the world to answer fundamental questions requiring the view from and into space. The National Research Council is an advisor to SMD and conducts decadal surveys to define science priorities in its discipline areas for the next decade. SMD seeks to understand the origins, evolution, and destiny of the universe and to understand the nature of the phenomena that shape it. SMD also seeks to understand:

  • The nature of life in the universe and what kinds of life may exist beyond Earth;
  • The solar system, both scientifically and in preparation for human exploration; and
  • The Sun and Earth, changes in the Earth-Sun system, and the consequences of the Earth-Sun relationship for life on Earth.
The Science Mission Directorate seeks to achieve improved science measurements of the Earth, Sun,and Solar System. This image of the Arctic sea ice cover on March 1, 2003, obtained from the AquaAdvanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for EOS (AMSR-E), shows the combination of both temperatureand the emissivity of sea ice at 89 GHz. Patterns of linear openings in the sea ice appear darkerthan the surrounding thick sea ice. The green, brown, and white areas over land indicate increasingelevation. The dark circle over the pole is an area that is beyond the field of view of the instrument.(NASA GSFC, Alvaro Ivanoff)

NASA’s Innovative Partnerships Program (IPP) is one source for the development of technology and innovation needed by SMD to accomplish its objectives and missions. Within the IPP’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program, these needs are categorized by the following topic areas: 1) Sensors, Detectors, and Instruments; 2) Advanced Telescope Systems; 3) Spacecraft and Platform Subsystems; 4) Low-Cost Small Spacecraft and Technologies; 5) Robotic Exploration Technologies; and 6) Information Technologies. The subtopic technology needs in the first topic area for achieving improved science measurements of the Earth, Sun, Solar System, and Universe are:

  • Lidar System Components
  • Active Microwave Technologies
  • Passive Microwave Technologies
  • Sensor and Detector Technology for Visible, IR, Far IR, and Submillimeter
  • Detector Technologies for UV, XRay, Gamma-Ray & Cosmic-Ray Instruments
  • Particles and Field Sensors and Instrument Enabling Technologies
  • Cryogenic Systems for Sensors and Detectors
  • In Situ Airborne, Surface, and Submersible Instruments for Earth Science
  • In Situ Sensors and Sensor Systems for Planetary Science
  • Space Geodetic Observatory Components
  • Lunar Science Instruments and Technology

More details about needs in each technology area above will be provided in NASA’s SBIR/STTR solicitation to be released on July 7, 2008, and will be available here . For a more detailed description of what NASA’s SMD is doing, and what applications it envisions for the technologies above please refer to the following website: .

For more information, or to tell us about your ideas, contact the NASA Innovative Partnerships Program (IPP) Office at the NASA Center nearest you. See page 70 for a list of center contacts.