Technology Development

About NASA Astrophysics Science Programs

NASA’s Astrophysics Division (APD) undertakes spaceflight missions to explore the nature of the universe at its largest scales, its earliest moments, and its most extreme conditions; missions that study how galaxies and stars formed and evolved to shape the universe we see today; and missions that seek out and characterize planets and planetary systems orbiting other stars. Since such ambitious missions require technologies that exceed today's state of the art, APD established the Strategic Astrophsics Technology (SAT) program to mature key technologies' Technology Readiness Level (TRL) to enable these future missions, from demonstrated feasibility, (i.e., TRL 3), to the point where they can be incorporated into NASA flight missions (i.e., TRL 6).

APD set up three science Programs, Physics of the Cosmos (PCOS), Cosmic Origins (COR), and the Exoplanets Exploration Program (ExEP), to address three fundamental questions: “How does the universe work?” (PCOS), “How did we get here?” (COR), and “Are we alone?” (ExEP). The PCOS, COR, and ExEP Program Offices each supports its respective Program, including managing SAT and other mid-TRL-directed projects.

Astrophysics Technology Development

The three Program Offices serve the critical function of developing concepts and technologies for strategic missions and facilitating science investigations derived from them, specifically:

  • Assess and prioritize technology gaps, collecting inputs from the community and technology activities.
  • Manage projects that mature technologies for strategic missions from initial TRLs of 3, 4, or 5.
  • Promote infusion of technologies into missions and projects.
  • Conduct mission studies and develop mission concepts to enable future scientific discoveries.
  • Communicate progress to and coordinate with the scientific community.
  • Inform the general public about progress achieved by the Programs (see searchable database of Astrophysics technology development projects).

Astrophysics Program Office Technology Maturation

Identifying, soliciting, and funding strategic technologies requires collaboration and cooperation of many bodies and organizations, including the science/technology community, the National Academies' Decadal Survey panels, APD, and the Program Offices, as shown in the process flowchart below. This process is comprised of three interlinked cyclic processes:

  • A 10-year cycle through which the Decadal Survey panels collect and consider input from the community, and recommend to APD the highest-priority missions and activities for the coming decade;
  • A biennial cycle through which the Program Offices collect input from the community and prioritize technology gaps based on APD and Decadal Survey strategic guidance (the Astrophysics Biennial Technology Report, or ABTR, is the main reporting step of that cycle); and
  • An annual process of soliciting, reviewing, and funding SAT proposals.

SAT and other solicitations NOI and proposal due dates are usually set in October and December, respectively, to enhance APD responsiveness and enable prompt proposal evaluations and selection decisions.

The Astrophysics Strategic Technology Development Process Matures and Enables Infusion of Key Technologies into Astrophysics Missions and Beyond

Above: The Astrophysics Strategic Technology Development Process Matures and Enables Infusion of Key Technologies into Astrophysics Missions and Beyond


2019 abtr


View current and previous technology reports and highlights.

Hardware Gallery


View the latest technology hardware being developed.

2019 poster

Posters, Papers, Oral Presentations

Presentations from the Program Offices at national conferences.

NASA logo Goddard Space Flight Center