NASA’S Planetary Defense Coordination Office uses the Catalina Sky Survey facility in Tucson, Arizona, to catalog space objects. (Photo: Catalina Sky Survey/The University of Arizona)

An ever-increasing number of objects and dynamic observation requirements—complicated by the constant motion of sensors, targets, Earth and the Sun—necessitates adaptive machine learning techniques for tracking space objects.

AeroTel, a 1-meter telescope, serves as the sensor testbed for Prime Focus.

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will peer back in time to search for answers. With its longer wavelength coverage and increased sensitivity, Webb could advance humankind’s current knowledge of the universe beyond the capability of any other telescope in history.


A renewed interest in launch rideshares for small satellites is enabling more frequent opportunities to reach orbit at a competitive price. We look at who’s involved and what’s next for the industry.

Image courtesy NASA/Ames Research Center

The Moon is a hostile environment — extreme temperatures, low gravity, and radiation await the next generation of astronauts. Scientists have patented a method for turning a plentiful lunar resource into building blocks for potential habitats.

The Regishell concept proposes inflatable human habitat structures that can be inflated on-site, then rigidized using abundant local regolith as a construction material.


Emergent behaviors in space, driven by reduced barriers to entry, an influx of private capital and new players, and increasing geopolitical competition, are creating cross-cutting challenges in the space enterprise fundamentally different in nature and complexity than ever before.

The Space Futures Map, aka The Pathfinder’s Guide to the Space Enterprise, illustrates seven core themes in present day and proposed future developments, and the potential scenarios arising between them.


Shrinking technology and lower costs are making on-orbit servicing, assembly, and manufacturing an area of emerging technology and growth in the space domain.

Artist’s concept of the Restore-L (now OSAM-1) servicer extending its robotic arm to grasp and refuel a client satellite on orbit. Image Credit: NASA

Key Technologies and Developments

U.S. Government

CarbonWatch has the ability to identify and monitor the largest sources of carbon emissions from humans, day and night.

The CarbonWatch instrument sensors can measure CO2 and CO signals independent from sunlight, using a simplified, replicable architecture and an onboard processing system.

A 12-year mission to study the Asteroids surrounding Jupiter could reveal archaeological insights about the outer planets.

The Lucy spacecraft passing one of the Trojan Asteroids near Jupiter. Artist illustration courtesy Southwest Research Institute / NASA.

The Aerospace Corporation

We operate the only federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) committed exclusively to the space enterprise.

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