NASA Releases Technology Roadmap For 2015: Robots, Supercomputers And Big Data


NASA released its 2015 technology roadmaps, laying down a set of promising new technologies that will aid the agency in achieving its goals in science, human exploration and science missions for the next 20 years.

Back in 2010, NASA came up with 14 technology roadmaps, guiding the development of space-related technologies. The draft for the 2015 NASA Technology Roadmaps expands and updates the roadmaps released in 2012, offering comprehensive details about the agency’s mission capabilities and related development needs pertaining to technology. NASA believes that sharing these roadmaps with a bigger community will help boost awareness, generating more innovative solutions and inspiring involvement in the United State’s space program.

“The technology candidates identified in the roadmaps provide capabilities that can be leveraged, reused and built upon, enabling more complex operations over time in the exploration of more distant destinations in the solar system,” added David Miller, NASA’s chief technologist.

Made up of a set of documents, the 2015 Technology Roadmaps take into consideration a wide range of development pathways and technology candidates that can affect the agency’s work for the next 20 years. Specifically, the roadmaps touch on:

  • Launch propulsion systems;
  • In-space propulsion technologies;
  • Space power and energy storage;
  • Robotics and autonomous systems;
  • Communications, navigation, and orbital debris tracking and characterization systems;
  • Human health, life support and habitation systems;
  • Human exploration destination systems;
  • Science instruments, observatories and sensor systems;
  • Entry, descent and landing systems;
  • Nanotechnology;
  • Modeling, simulation,information technology and processing;
  • Materials, structures, mechanical systems and manufacturing;
  • Ground and launch systems;
  • Thermal management systems; and
  • Aeronautics.

Each roadmap is further broken down into levels. Technology Area Level 1 Robotics and Autonomous Systems Technology, for instance, has level 2 categories like sensing and perception, mobility, manipulation, human-system interaction, system-level autonomy, autonomous rendezvous and docking, and systems engineering. These categories are then further expounded upon to thresh out information about the roadmap.

Using a specific set of questions tackling broad areas, NASA is calling on the public to provide feedback on the draft of the 2015 Technology Roadmaps. Comments may be sent in from May 11 to June 10. After this period, the agency will be reviewing the comments, updating the roadmaps as seen fit.

The roadmaps are part of the Strategic Technology Investment Plan, an actionable plan laying out strategies for developing technologies crucial to achieving NASA’s goals. How the agency chooses which technologies to prioritize is heavily influenced by recommendations from the National Research Council.
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