Earth Science Missions Program

Ames manages airborne science missions that improve life for humans on earth.

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Ames CCT Technology

Ames develops innovative partnerships and collaboration models to stimulate technology transfers and commercial activities.

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Small Satellite Missions

NanoSail-D Factsheet

Ames develops small satellite missions that enable science in low Earth orbit.

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Exploration History

Footprint on the Moon
This Month in Exploration

Visit every month to find out how aviation and space exploration have improved life for humans on Earth and in space.

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Lunar Exploration

Learn more about the significance of our robotic and human exploration of the moon.

› Lunar exploration

Current Missions

  • NASA's first mission capable of finding Earth-size and smaller planets.

    Kepler  →

    Kepler is NASA's first mission capable of finding Earth-size and smaller planets. The Kepler mission, scheduled to launch in 2009, will monitor the brightness of stars to find planets that pass in front of them during the planets' orbits. During such passes or 'transits,' the planets will slightly decrease the star's brightness.

  • The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, lands at Moffett Field, Calif.

    SOFIA (Joint Venture)

    The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is a joint venture of the U.S. and German aerospace agencies, NASA and the DLR. The aircraft is supplied by the U.S., and the telescope by Germany. Modifications of the Boeing 747SP airframe to accommodate the telescope, mission-unique equipment and large external door were made by L-3 Communications Integrated Systems of Waco, Texas.

  • concept image of Mars Science Laboratory on Mars

    Mars Science Laboratory, the Next Mars Rover (Joint Venture)

    The primary goal of the Mars Science Laboratory mission, expected to launch in late 2011, is to investigate whether conditions have been favorable for microbial life and for preserving clues about possible past life. This mission is preparing to set down a large, mobile laboratory - the rover Curiosity. During the 23 months after landing, Curiosity will analyze dozens of samples drilled from rocks or scooped from the ground as it explores with greater range than any previous Mars rover.

  • Thomas Neidermaier, EMCS Payload Integration Manager and Reinhard Born, EMCS Payload Engineering Manager perform final checks on NASA and ESA hardware at NASA Ames Research Center.

    Seedling Growth-1  →

    Seedling Growth-1 is the first in a series of joint NASA-European Space Agency experiments aiming to help us understand plant growth in space. The major goals of the experiment are to determine how gravity and light responses influence each other in plants and to better understand the cellular signaling mechanisms involved in plant tropisms - plant movement and growth. The Seedling Growth-1 payload launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard a SpaceX Dragon vehicle on March 1, 2013.

  • The logo for Bion-M1.

    Bion-M1  →

    NASA's participation in the Bion-M1 mission will continue the 30+-year history of collaborative research between NASA and the Russian Institute of Biomedical Problems (IMBP), Moscow.

  • TechEdSat


    TechEdSat is an innovative low-cost mission that showcases collaboration across NASA, academia, and industry. A small satellite known as a Cubesat was developed by students from San Jose State University in California with support from NASA Ames using plug-and-play commercially available avionics. TechEdSat was launched from the International Space Station in October 2012 and students are preforming communications experiments using TechEdSat data.

  • Operation Ice Bridge

    Operation Ice Bridge  →

    Icebridge is a 6 year airborne survey of the Earth's polar regions that combines detailed flight data with scientific observations from ICESat satellites. Using complex data assimilation, the project is producing stunning three-dimensional views of Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, ice shelves and ice sea. [Spring and Fall 2012]

  • HS3

    HS3  →

    Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel is a 5 year investigation of how hurricanes form and intensify in the Atlantic Ocean basin. Scientists will fly instruments on two of NASA's unmanned air systems (UAS) to take field measurements during three hurricane seasons. One suite of instruments will measure the environment while the other suite will focus on the internal hurricane structure and processes. [Summer 2012]


    ATTREX  →

    ATTREX used NASA's unmanned air systems to take a series of scientific measurements to study the composition, chemistry, and behavior of the Tropical Tropopause Layer (TTL). The TTL is the region of the atmosphere that controls the composition of the stratosphere. [Summer 2011]

Technology and Innovation

    Investments in space technology and innovation enable new missions, stimulate the economy, contribute to the nation’s global competitiveness, and inspire America’s next generation of scientists, engineers and astronauts.
    › Read more about OCT's work.

Space Tech In Our Lives

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