Creating and discovering new breakthroughs.

STMD’s Explore thrust includes transformative mission and discoveries. This thrust is tasked with developing the following technologies: next-generation high-performance computing, communications, and navigation to support new discoveries and augment science and exploration missions. This thrust also includes some of the current exploration missions. We also include some additional technologies that have space applications.

Advanced Robotics and Autonomous Systems

Terry Fong from NASA will give you an overview of STMD’s thrust Explore before going into depth on advanced robotics and autonomous systems. Learn more about Terry Fong.

Haley Cummings and Shannon Withrow will explain how these types of robotics work on Mars with Perseverance and Ingenuity.

Haley Cumings is the Principal Investigator for the Early Career Initiative Project entitled Rotor Optimization for the Advancement of Mars Exploration (ROAMX). Haley Cummings – Future Flight on Mars: Ingenuity and the ROAMX Project | NASA

You can find out more about Mars Exploration Program here.

Next-Generation High-Performance Computing

Kristopher Miller explains the ARTEMIS (Advanced Real-Time Environment for Modeling, Integration, and Simulation) computer system as it supports the ARTEMIS program.

Advanced Avionics Systems

Wesley Powell from NASA explains the need for advanced avionics in the future to support the Artemis mission. Avionics is a foundational technology to make exploration possible.

Satellite Servicing & Assembly

Bo Naasz from NASA explains on-orbiting services, assembly, and manufacturing. These capabilities are required for the future of Gateway and the Artemis missions. You can read Bo’s biography here.

Advanced Manufacturing

This area has moved been moved to the Explore thrust since the video was created.

Mark Hilburger from NASA explains advanced manufacturing and the various technologies to which it applies. You can find out more about Mark here.

Small Spacecraft

The first satellite was Sputnick, which launched the Space Race. You can review the history of Sputnick here.

CU Aerospace President David Carroll discusses the small spacecraft and the Kessler syndrome. Learn more about Kessler Syndrome here. David discusses how companies are working to reduce space debris.

Dr. William Schonberg from the Missouri University of Science and Technology discusses space junk and how we deal with it. More information on orbital debris can be found here.

Chris Baker from NASA discusses the future of small spacecraft.

David Carroll from CU Aerospace discusses the various micro propulsion technologies.

Rendezvous, Proximity Operations & Capture

Cody Short from AGU discusses Astrogator and how rendezvous and proximity operations work.

Advanced Communications & Navigation

These short videos explain NASA’s plans for communication and navigation in the future.

You can find out more about the SCaN program here.

The Station Explorer for X-ray Timing and Navigation (SEXTANT) was launched to the ISS in June of 2017 that uses pulsars for GPS like navigation through our solar system. You can read more about SEXTANT Project here.

Other Exploration Technologies

Dr. Mel Ulmer from Northwestern University explains the new technologies for astronomers and exploring the universe.

Josh Adamson from Northrup Grumman discusses the James Webb Space Telescope. The first video contains a little more detail than the second, please select the one you are most interested in.

Samantha McCune discusses the XQ-58A Valkyrie drone.

Dr. YJ Lin from Northern Illinois University discusses the Mechatronics Engineering Program and the new aircraft de-icing technology they are creating using mechatronics.

Please Note: Transcripts are only available on the Illinois Space Tech Academy videos. These videos also have closed captioning available in English and Spanish.

Check Your Understanding

Q1 : Which of these is not an activity for robots in space?
Q2 : Name one challenge created when helicopter blades spin fast enough to produce shockwaves on Mars?
Q3 : True/False Avionics refers to the hardware and software infrastructure necessary for the command and control of spacecraft and surface assets.
Q4 : What is special about the Mars mission with the Ingenuity helicopter?
Q5 : The two robots that traveled to Mars in 2020 are:
Q6 : What are some of the causes of space debris?

Earn your Explore Digital Badge by completing this assessment. You must show mastery of the content by earning 80% or higher on this assessment. You may retake this assessment as often as you like.