In addition to the challenges being addressed through Earth science technology research and development, there remain obstacles to the successful implementation of emerging technologies into science missions and campaigns. Once a technology achieves its technical targets in the laboratory, the next step is to show that it can work as designed in a real-world operating condition.
Validation, on airborne and spaceborne platforms, is a critical step in mitigating the risk of new technologies. Non-validated technology is generally acknowledged to be a primary source of mission delays and cost overruns.
ESTO is actively facilitating and pursuing opportunities to flight-qualify various emerging technologies – instruments, components, and information systems – in relevant environments, through partnerships inside and outside of NASA.
ESTO is now pursuing mechanisms to support flight demonstrations of new technologies and capabilities that have not previously been demonstrated in space, primarily on small, ride-sharing spacecraft.
Many ESTO technologies are demonstrated onboard airplanes, UAVs (Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles) or high-altitude balloons during their course of funding. In other cases, ESTO partners with aircraft providers such as the NASA Airborne Science Program to provide further validation.