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Executive Summary

PESTO developed a comprehensive Planetary Science Technology Development strategy to outline how we will create widely available advanced capabilities to explore the solar system. The Plan will focus on:​
      • Gaining new understandings that answer priority science questions​
      • Reaching new destinations​​
      • Operating in new environments in new ways​


Chapter 1 – Overview

Chapter 2 – Current Technology Status

Chapter 3 – Technology Prioritization

Chapter 4 – Technology Development Implementation

Chapter 5 – Sustainment

Chapter 6 – Communication Plan


Planetary Science Technology Strategic Goals / Objectives

1. Invest in innovative Technology Development for Planetary Science

a) Prioritize technology development that enables new and/or enhanced Science based on guidance from the Decadal survey and direction for the next decade.

b) Execute a balanced technology development portfolio that grows new science enabling technology, matures technology to infusion, and maintains strategic technology capabilities until they can be transitioned to missions or other funding.

c) Recommend technology investments needed, for benefit of PSD, within NASA (e.g. STMD, ESDMD, and SMD) and leverage these investments.

d) Enhance our focus on high intellectual risk/high impact technology investments.

2. Technology Maturation to Planetary Science Missions

a) Facilitate technology development from prototype to mission by providing funding opportunities and science collaboration opportunities.

b) Create destination focused solicitations and specific mission concepts that feed into unique PSD mission needs.

3. Forge Interconnectivity and Partnerships

a) Leverage and encourage technology advancement from collaborative external organizations both inside and outside NASA, including commercial and non-space industries to meet the future Planetary Science needs.

b) Seek technology development input from agency priorities such as Moon to Mars and from both inside and outside of NASA.

c) Foster an inclusive culture that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship.

4. Communicate Planetary Science Technology Status and Plans

a) Oversee Planetary Science technology development projects, including needs, goals, plans, solicitations, risks, schedule and funding.

b) Ensure the Planetary Science technology programs, goals, plans, funding levels, solicitation approaches, including selection rates, and selection results, along with how the program operates, who is involved, and how the science community and supporting organizations can play a role are shared transparently both inside and outside NASA.

c) Ensure that technology development data are accessible to all (consistent with SPD41).

How Planetary Science Develops Technology

Types of Technology Development Funded by Planetary Science

      • Instrument technologies needed for future science missions
      • Platform technologies needed for unique science applications, coordinated with STMDpstd scale
      • Investments are:
        • Competitively awarded through ROSES
        • Directed when needed

SMD/STMD Interactions

      • SMD provides desired technology focus areas of interest to STMD​
      • SMD has strong involvement across STMD programs
      • PSD is a division in SMD. Other SMD divisions are Earth Sciences, Heliophysics, Biological and Physical Sciences, and Astrophysics
      • SMD Division Technology Offices interact and meet as part of the Technology Federation, which is managed and run by the SMD Chief Technologist
      • STMD’s focus is on platform technologies Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 1-7 and includes TRL1-3 instrument investments

PS Strategy for Developing and Infusing Technology ​

Developing Technology (TRL ≤ 6)
Developing Technology

Technology DemonstrationsTechnology Demonstrations enable new technologies to be less risky to missions​

    • Further development through potential paths to maturing technology to TRL 6
    • PIs may propose to Technology Demonstration Opportunities (TDOs)

Infusing Technology

    • PESTO facilitates forging technology and scientist connections through events like Technology Showcase
    • Investigate incentives for including new tech
    • Develop TRA process that is standardized, transparent and utilized by community
    • Work with NASA proposal panels to ensure new tech is understood

Other Potential Technology Success

    • Encourage commercialization by advocating for relevant TP and SBIR Phase III projects

Planetary Science Technology Stakeholders

Stakeholders for Planetary Science Technology Development Plan are:

      • SMD
      • PSD
      • ESSIO

Beneficiaries for Planetary Science Technology Development Plan are:

      • Within NASA
      • SMD
      • STMD
      • ESDMD
      • Outside NASA
      • The science community
      • The Assessment Groups (AGs)
      • Department of Energy
      • National Science Foundation

How Technology Focus Areas are Identified 

focus areasDecadal Survey Review

      • Planetary Science Division Program Scientists review Origins, Worlds, and Life Decadal Survey (OWL) and identify technology needs

Mission Study Reports

      • PESTO reviews of Mission Study Reports and identification of stated technology needs

AG Technology Development Plans/Roadmaps

      • PESTO reviews of pre-Decadal Technology Development Plans/Roadmaps and grouping of AG technology needs

Community Discussion

      • PESTO discussions with community about technology needs and goals

Planetary Science Discussions

      • PESTO discussions with groups within Planetary Science about technology needs and goals

Planetary Science Funded Studies

      • PESTO will use these to verify/document technology needs

Planetary Science Technology Focus Areas*

focus areas 2Instrumentation, with an emphasis on:

      • In Situ Search for Life/Astrobiology

Sample Containment and Return:

      • Planetary Protection and Contamination Control
      • Thermal Protection and Control
      • Sample Manipulation


      • Global Positioning System (GPS) deprived navigation
      • Surface (planetary) operations
      • On-board science data processing
      • Ground Operations

Robotics, with an emphasis on Advanced Mobility for:

      • Aerial Rovers in Extreme Environments
      • Subsurface Access in Extreme Environments**

Higher-efficiency radioisotope power system technology

*These are priority developments, however, future investments are not limited to these technologies
**Includes drilling

Decision to Invest

Investment Process

    • PESTO will use the Prioritization Process, where:
        • Interact with community and Decadal Survey to identify Technology Focus Areas
        • Commission technology studies for SME’s evaluation of a Technology Focus Areas, documenting the state of the art, priority needs/opportunities, and estimated investment and time needed to mature to TRL 6
        • PSD reduce specific instruments and technologies provided by the technology studies based on:
          • Figures of merit
          • Programmatic needs
        • Create resulting list of prioritized instruments and technologies for Technology Focus Areas
          • For strategic NASA technologies, investments may be allocated directly while building on existing capabilities

Funding level for Technology Development

PSD takes the Technology Development funding recommendation from the Decadal Survey seriously and we strive to reach Technology Development funding of 6-8% of full PSD budget over the next decade

Prioritization Process 


Infusion and Strategy

Near, Mid, Far Developments

    • Due to technology taking decades to develop we must think of missions beyond current decadal
    • Maintain strategic technology development pipeline
    • PSD funded technology is typically technology that is uniquely needed by PSD and not funded elsewhere

Technology Demonstration Opportunities

    • Technology Demonstrations enable new technologies to be less risky to missions
      • It is difficult to demonstrate TRL 6 without a defined destination as part of a mission
    • Seek opportunities
      • PSD mission
      • Other division and other directorate

Technology Demonstration Opportunities

    • Technology Demonstrations enable new technologies to be less risky to missions
      • It is difficult to demonstrate TRL 6 without a defined destination as part of a mission
    • Seek opportunities
      • PSD mission
      • Other division and other directorate

Technology Development Pipeline

Technology Development Pipeline

Infusion of New Technologies

    • Identify what has worked so far and what has not worked
    • Strive to identify new approaches to improving new technology infusion into future missions
    • With the goal to improve infusion rates in the future, develop new approaches to new technology infusion into future missions
      • Investigate incentivizing including new technology
      • Socialize broadly new technology with the scientific community
      • PESTO facilitates forging technology and scientist connections through PSD Technology Showcase, AG attendance and presentations, and the PSD Yearly review
      • Work with NASA proposal evaluation panels (such as TMC) to understand new tech
      • Develop technologies that offer competitive advantage for competed AOs
      • Develop technologies that enable new science for directed flagship missions
      • Technology Readiness Assessment process that is standardized, transparent and utilized equally by community
      • Encourage commercialization by advocating for relevant TP and SBIR Phase III projects

Balancing Technology Development Completion and Sustainment

      • Create a plan early in development process to reduce Sustainment costs
        • Plan for technology to be ready when needed
        • Design in reduced Sustainment costs
        • Consider 3rd party Sustainment
        • Identify potential commercial applications
      • Identify when Tech Dev will be complete and refine that plan over time
      • Maintain portfolio of instruments
      • Incentivize technology for infusion
        • Communicate technology development to mission planners
        • Facilitate interactions at technical exchanges (Technology Showcase)
        • Support transition into flight projects, where applicable
        • Track infusion success stories
        • Work in collaboration with STMD to be aware of emerging new technologies

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility

    • Utilize the Dual Anonymous Peer Review (DAPR) process for all programs starting 2025 (PICASSO program became DAPR in 2024)
    • Organize the PSD Technology Showcase to foster direct discussions between technologists, scientists, and mission managers about the technologies’ potential application to specific future missions. Activities deliberately occur around same size booths/tables to foster an equitable experience for all business/universities sizes and the showcase is open to scientists with all levels of mission concept ideas, with low registration overhead
    • Present a proposal writing workshop to the community which would provide direction and information on how to write a potentially winning technology proposal, with an emphasis to support early career PIs
    • Review if an inclusion plan is a fit for each program, if an inclusion plan does become required it will be rolled out gradually with preliminary notice to the community
    • Attract PIs from underserved communities by communicating with a broad community base about program opportunities (via the PESTO website, PSD Technology Showcase, AG presentations and discussions, and the PSD Yearly review)


We aim to track the projects we invest in and to transparently communicate technology status to the community

Communication Paths

        • Multiple potential paths for communication from NASA and to NASA, including but not limited to:
        • PESTO website, TechPort, Technology Highlights, AGs, OSDMP, Planetary Science Advisory Committee (PAC), SME studies/workshops

Communication Outreach

Forge Interconnectivity and Partnerships

        • Leverage and encourage technology advancement from collaborative external organizations both inside and outside NASA
        • Maintain cognizance of technology in commercial and international arenas
        • Identify a level engagement with outside NASA

Technology Strategy Communication

        • Technology Development Plan will be published on the PESTO website
        • The Technology Investment Process will be reviewed every 5 years, and the community will be engaged using the Prioritization Process previously discussed
        • The results of the study/workshop for each prioritized technology will be published on the PESTO website as the results are available

Open Science

SPD-41a does apply to all SMD technology programs

      • open scienceCan include publications, data and software (
      • SPD-41a is not new but pulls together all previous requirements from ROSES solicitation, Bayh-Dole Act and others
      • All proposals will have OSDMP going forward starting in FY24
      • There can be exemptions to SPD-41a, and they can be found at SPD41a section II. C. (

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