NASA's AIST Program funds technology for the next decade

Michael M Little, NASA Headquarters, Earth Science Technology Office, Washington, DC, United States
The Advanced Information Systems Technology (AIST) Program is part of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) Earth Science Technology Office (ESTO). Its goal is not only to reduce the risk, cost, size and development time of future Earth Science missions and their corresponding information systems and to increase the use of Earth Science data, but also to enable new observation measurements and information products. In particular, with the emergence of new sources of observational data, including high-quality science instruments on CubeSats and Small Sats, and the development of commercial space platforms, phenomena that previously could not have been studied or would have been too expensive to study, can now be observed through a novel variety of measurements. Because of their relatively low cost and easy access to space these research instruments, hosted on small spacecraft and commercial satellites, enable observing strategies using multiple or even large numbers of similar platforms, yielding high revisit rates or multi-angle observations of the same phenomenon. In addition, the ability to point instruments, coupled with new high-performance onboard processing capabilities, enables high-density observations for specific phenomena of interest instead of operating in a fixed pattern. This new type of observation strategy will involve the coordination and integration of various instruments located at different vantage points from NASA and non-NASA sources, including in orbit, airborne and even in-situ sensors to create a more dynamic and complete picture of a natural physical process.