These missions have provided astounding views of the universe and new knowledge of our solar system, but there is still so much more to "see" and learn. And, as missions become progressively more daring, and thus more difficult, more advanced capabilities are needed. However, before new, untried technologies are used for the first time on complex exploration missions, engineers and scientists want to make sure they will operate well, and safely, in the hazardous environment of space.
To accomplish this, NASA's Office of Space Science (OSS) and Office of Earth Science jointly established the New Millennium Program (NMP) in 1995an ambitious, exciting vision to speed up space exploration through the development and testing of leading-edge technologies. A unique program, managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology, NMP provides a critical bridge from initial concept to exploration-mission use. Through NMP, selected technologies are demonstrated in the "laboratory" of space that can't be replicated on Earth.
Since its inception over a decade ago, NMP has validated many innovative technologies for both Earth science and space science missions. Now funded and managed solely out of NASA's newly formed Science Mission Directorate (SMD), the Program continues to demonstrate advanced technologies that will enable space science missions of the 21st century with significant (a several-generation leap) technical capabilities.
Highly advanced technologies are key to more capable, powerful, and efficient spacecraft and science instruments. They are also key to gathering new and exciting scientific knowledge of our solar system and of our universe.
Read Professor Starr's Dream Trip, the whimsical story of a hypothetical scientist and how a technology validated by an NMP mission enabled him to achieve his dream mission of exploration.