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Goddard Year In Review: Technology
These stories, images and videos represent some of Goddard's technology highlights from 2011. All the content showcased here bears some connection to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

So, You Want to Build a Satellite: Part II

Using the MAVEN mission as an example, this video describes why building a satellite is much more difficult than putting together an office chair.
› Watch Part I

NASA Launches Webb Telescope Interactive Fly-by Tour Online (02.23.11)

Imagine flying around in space to examine a future space observatory that’s under construction today. Thanks to animators and web developers, Internet users can get a fly-by tour of NASA's next-generation, tennis court-sized James Webb Space Telescope.

› The Full Story
› Take the Tour
› Related Story: Webb Technologies Helping Human Eyes
› Related Video: Webb Telescope FAQs
› NASA's Webb Telescope Website

Closeup of James Webb Space Telescope 3D interactive

The MMS dual electron spectrometer being built in the Goddard clean room.

Goddard Building Instrument To Study Reconnection (04.29.11)

Whether it's a giant solar flare or a beautiful green-blue aurora, just about everything interesting in space weather happens because of magnetic reconnection. Reconnection occurs when magnetic field lines cross and create a burst of energy. These bursts can be so big they're measured in megatons of TNT. Right now, there are no spacecraft dedicated to studying this phenomenon. But that's about to change.

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NASA is Making Hot, Way Cool (05.26.11)

How do you cool down spacecraft electronics in deep space, where there's no air to fan away the heat? Technologists at Goddard have developed a prototype pump that may be the answer. The prototype promises significant advantages over more traditional cooling techniques by relying on electric fields, rather than mechanical pumps, to prevent spacecraft components from overheating.

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prototype pump that more efficiently removes heat from spacecraft instruments and components

device developed to demonstrate MicroSpec's superconducting circuits

Wafer-Thin MicroSpec to Capture Youthful View of Universe (06.30.11)

Scientists may finally get a glimpse at our adolescent universe from a revolutionary new technology being developed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center: An instrument on a chip called MicroSpec. This new instrument is a far-infrared spectrometer that will be 10,000 times more sensitive and many times smaller than similar existing devices.

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Magnetometry 101 (08.01.11)

NASA satellites use very sensitive devices called magnetometers to measure the magnetic fields of planets. Like very sensitive compasses, these devices can measure both direction and strength of planetary magnetic fields.
› Related Story: Juno to Show Jupiter's Magnetic Field in High-Def

The Miniaturized WINCS Factory (08.03.11)

The WINCS instrument includes four spectrometers and three detectors assembled into a three-inch package using just 1.3 watts of power. Its diminutive size makes it an ideal payload for an emerging class of small spacecraft. WINCS is designed to study Earth's volatile ionosphere and thermosphere (the portions of our atmosphere stretching from about 60 miles to more than 350 miles above the planet's surface.)

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Close-up of the WINCS instrument, which is specially designed to fly on Cubesats.

screen capture of the Goddard Virtual Tour

Take a Virtual Tour of NASA Goddard (08.11.11)

If you would like to know what happens behind that gates of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., you can now get a virtual tour of the facilities and learn about the amazing science and technology that happen at the center.

› The Full Story
› Take the Tour

During Shuttle Era, Goddard Provided The Critical Path (09.16.11)

From the time a space shuttle launched until its landing at the Kennedy Space Center, NASA Goddard's space communication networks provided the constant link necessary for every mission. "Every Human Space Flight mission from Mercury, Gemini and Apollo to the Space Shuttle and Space Station programs, has relied on the communications assets managed by Goddard," said Jeff Volosin, Deputy for Goddard's Exploration and Space Communications Projects Division. "Beginning at lift-off, any time an astronaut talked to mission control, whenever you saw video from the shuttle or the International Space Station, all system performance data received during flight, or when information was sent to the astronauts, it always traveled through Goddard's networks."

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› Related Story: Goddard's Role in Final Flight of Atlantis
› Related Story: Goddard Watches Atlantis's Return

The Goddard NIC during launch of STS-135

NASA to Demonstrate Communications Via Laser Beam (09.22.11)

NASA is looking for the next generation of space communications technology, and Laser Comm may be the answer. Optical communications provide higher bandwidth, which allows for faster data flow and even opens the door to streaming high-def video from distant planets to ground stations on Earth. The Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) mission will be put to the test in 2016. (Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)
› The Full Story
› Related Video: Laser Communications Relay Demonstration
› Related Story: All Systems Go For Next Communication Spacecraft

Goddard laser experts (from left to right) Barry Coyle, Paul Stysley, and Demetrios Poulios

NASA Studying Ways to Make 'Tractor Beams' a Reality (10.31.11)

A team of scientists at Goddard has won funding to study how sci-fi 'tractor beam' technology (moving objects with laser light) could be brought into reality. The team already has three ideas for how this sort of technology could be used to remotely capture planetary or atmospheric particles and deliver them to a robotic rover or orbiting spacecraft for analysis.

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New NASA Material Redefines 'Dark' (11.08.11)

NASA engineers have produced a material that absorbs more than 99 percent of the light that hits it, across multiple wavelengths. The development promises to open new frontiers in space technology by helping eliminate even more "stray light" than current methods. (Unwanted light can ruin space observations in much the same way it can ruin a photograph.) This new material, however, is far more than just a super-dark can of paint. The new nanotech-based (that is, super small) coating is a thin layer of tiny hollow tubes made of pure carbon about 10,000 times thinner than a strand of human hair.

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close-up view of internal structure of carbon-nanotube coating

NASA Goddard Employee Wins 2011 Presidential SAVE Award (11.21.11)

Matthew Ritsko, a financial manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., won the 2011 Presidential Securing Americans' Value and Efficiency (SAVE) award with his proposal to create a "lending library" where specialized space tools and hardware purchased by one NASA organization would be made available to other NASA programs and projects. This image gallery shows photographs of some of the tools and equipment that NASA uses to accomplish its missions. Some of this hardware could be among the equipment tracked in Ritsko's "lending library."
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This gallery showcases imagery and video connected to NASA Goddard technological developments.