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SCaN Technology

SCaN is at the forefront of space communications and navigation technology development, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible to better enable space and science missions. Technology projects are developed by groups of SCaN engineers and scientists. The technology items are created and tested in lab settings before they are taken into space for further testing. Once a technology has proven itself worthy in a space environment, it can then be utilized on missions.

A rendering of ILLUMA-T on the International Space Station communicating with LCRD in geosynchronous orbit.

SCaN Engineering and Technology

A graphic depicting use of Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking through multiple paths and providers. On the left, Earth is displayed with two provider antennas communicating with a Moon relay and a Mars waypoint. The Mars waypoint communicates with an astronaut on Mars. Another relay provider near Earth communicates with a second Moon relay orbiting the Moon.

Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking

Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking is a suite of standard protocols that uses information within the data stream to accomplish end-to-end data delivery through network nodes. 

Rendering of the Deep Space Atomic Clock.

Developmental Technology

Developmental technologies are ones that are not yet fully functional and have not yet made it to space. These technologies are considered to be TRL 6 and below.

Fall 2010, software engineers work in the background of the West High Bay area of the Power Systems Facility as Glenn Research Center technician, Joe Kerka rotates the SCAN Testbed flight enclosure assembly using a specially manufactured mount. Flight components can be seen inside the flight enclosure. The SCAN Testbed will be launched on a Japanese H–IIB Transfer Vehicle and installed on the International Space Station (ISS) providing an on-orbit, adaptable software-defined radio (SDR) facility with corresponding ground and operational systems. This will permit mission operators to remotely change the functionality of radio communications through software once deployed to space, offering them flexibility to adapt to new science opportunities and recover from anomalies within the science payload or communication system. This effort is sponsored by NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) Program as part of the Communications, Navigation, and Networking reConfigurable Testbed (CoNNeCT) Project led by Glenn Research Center.

Demonstrable Technology

Demonstrable technologies have proven themselves in laboratory tests and have begun experimentation and testing in space. These technologies are considered to be TRL 7 and above.

Image of the SCaN Testbed installed on the International Space Station. The space station's solar array can be seen in the background.

Systems Engineering

Systems Engineering is a valuable process that is utilized throughout the lifecycle of all research and technology developed activities that SCaN develops. 

A chart displaying Technology Readiness Levels 1 through 9

Technology Readiness Level

Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) are a type of measurement system used to assess the maturity level of a particular technology.

Near Space Network: Providing missions within two million kilometers of Earth with communications and navigation services.

Data Standards

Learn about those of the NASA corps who make “space sailing” their career profession.

We see an illustrated graphic representation of a near-Earth communications system in front of a dark teal space scene filled with glowing stars.  The top half of planet Earth is shown in dark green, placed on the bottom half of the image. Four green spacecraft are shown circling the Earth, three are commercial satellites and one is a NASA owned satellite. Many glowing green dots are spread out across the Earth’s surface, and glowing green lines connect the dots to the spacecraft, representing invisible communications signals.

Wideband Technology

NASA is collaborating with industry to develop a terminal that will provide service interoperability for near-Earth communications between government and commercial owned networks.​

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