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Extreme Environments Technology


Lead Center: JPL

Participating Center(s): ARC, GRC, GSFC, LaRC, MSFC

Related Subtopic Pointer(s): S1.11, S4.02, Z5.02, Z8.03

NASA is interested in expanding its ability to explore the deep atmosphere and surface of giant planets, asteroids, and comets through the use of long-lived (days or weeks) balloons and landers. Survivability in extreme high-temperatures and high-pressures is also required for deep atmospheric probes to planets. Proposals are sought for technologies that are suitable for remote sensing applications at cryogenic temperatures, and in-situ atmospheric and surface explorations in the high-temperature high-pressure environment at the Venusian surface (485° C, 93 atmospheres), or in low-temperature environments such as Titan (-180° C), Europa (-220° C), Ganymede (-200° C), Mars, the Moon, asteroids, comets and other small bodies. Also, Europa-Jupiter missions may have a mission life of 10 years and the radiation environment is estimated at 2.9 Mega-rad total ionizing dose (TID) behind 0.1-inch-thick aluminum. Proposals are sought for technologies that enable NASA's long duration missions to extreme wide-temperature and cosmic radiation environments. High reliability, ease of maintenance, low volume, low mass, and low out-gassing characteristics are highly desirable. Special interest lies in development of following technologies that are suitable for the environments discussed above:


  • Wide temperature range precision mechanisms i.e., beam steering, scanner, linear and tilting multi-axis mechanisms.
  • Radiation-tolerant/radiation hardened low-power low-noise mixed-signal mechanism control electronics for precision actuators and sensors.
  • Wide temperature range feedback sensors with sub-arc-second/nanometer precision.
  • Long life, long stroke, low power, and high torque/force actuators with sub-arc-second/nanometer precision.
  • Long life Bearings/tribological surfaces/lubricants.
  • High temperature energy storage systems.
  • High-temperature actuators and gear boxes for robotic arms and other mechanisms.
  • Low-power and wide-operating-temperature radiation-tolerant /radiation hardened RF electronics.
  • Radiation-tolerant/radiation-hardened, low-power/ultra-low-power, wide-operating-temperature, low-noise, mixed-signal electronics for space-borne system such as guidance and navigation avionics and instruments.
  • Radiation-tolerant/radiation-hardened power electronics.
  • Radiation-tolerant/ radiation-hardened electronic packaging (including, shielding, passives, connectors, wiring harness and materials used in advanced electronics assembly).


Research should be conducted to demonstrate technical feasibility during Phase I and show a path toward a Phase II hardware demonstration, and when possible, deliver a demonstration unit for functional and environmental testing at the completion of the Phase II contract.


Please see subtopic Z8.03 for related topics of potential interest.

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