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Space Exploration
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Space Exploration Challenges

An astronaut uses the Jacobs-developed HD camera system for the International Space Station

As astronauts and researchers prepare to explore deeper into space than ever before, successful missions of tomorrow are no small feat.

From technologies designed to withstand the extreme environments in space to systems that maximize safety and efficiency of operations, the challenges of deep space exploration are constantly evolving.

Below are just a few of the main focuses defined by NASA: 

The journey to deep space

Entry, descent and landing

Entry, descent, and landing technologies ensure precise and safe landings on planetary surfaces and encompass the full range of sensors and components, guidance and navigation systems, testing and qualification, and mission operations.

Mission environments, integration and testing

Mission success through all stages of exploration relies on the integration of science and engineering into all aspects of human exploration.  Mission relevant environments are key to testing a wide range of technologies, tools, and techniques in addition to training the astronaut and ground operations crews in immersive environments.  Achieving early integration of science, engineering, system operations, and prototype testing in a mission relevant environment will greatly increase the mission returns, reduce the risks, and improve the affordability of deep-space missions. This includes bio-medical systems, astronaut health and performance, mission operations concepts, communications, EVA, field science, robotics and much more. 

Space radiation protection

Space radiation risks to astronauts must be reduced to the lowest achievable level.  New technologies are being developed to increase crew mission duration in the free-space radiation environment while remaining below the space radiation permissible exposure limits (PELs).  

Robotics and autonomous systems

Human exploration will require leveraging robotic systems in all phases of the mission as precursors to crewed missions, as crew helpers in space, and as caretakers of assets left behind.  The goals are to extend our reach into space, expand our planetary access capability, increase our ability to manipulate assets and resources, support our astronaut crews during their space operations, extend the life of the systems they leave behind, and enhance the efficacy of human operations.  

Science and planetary destinations

NASA explores to extend our human presence throughout our solar system.  They also explore to enrich our scientific understanding of other planets, our Moon and nearby asteroids.   There is a mission critical need to understand the varied and extreme planetary surfaces. The harsh, rocky environments of the Moon, asteroids, Mars and other destinations experience a wide range of temperatures, gravity, radiation, dust, rock and mineral types. These environments must be understood to correctly design spacecraft, landing systems, environmental and life support, space suites, ISRU systems and science instruments. 

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