Advancing Exploration & Science through Research & Innovative Information Systems

An underlying philosophy and approach of the Institute is that successful research is interdisciplinary, and that challenging applications associated with NASA’s mission provide a driving force for developing innovative information systems and other technologies. To implement this approach, research staff undertakes collaborative projects with research groups at NASA and elsewhere, integrating computer science with other disciplines to support NASA’s mission.

Quantum computing

Quantum Computing

USRA, NASA, and Google have established a joint Quantum Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (QuAIL), with 20% of Computing Time available to the University and Industry Research Communities.

USRA manages the QuAIL Science Operations to engage the broader research community, and manages the technical operations of a D-Wave 2XTM system located at NASA’s Ames Research Center.

Research includes fundamental research in quantum physics and computer science, as well as applied research exploring application of quantum computing to various domains including planning and scheduling and fault management for various space and aeronautics applications.

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Cloud computing

Cloud Computing

USRA has partnered with the NASA Headquarters Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) to support various data needs in NASA through the research and development of a novel Model-Based Cloud Computing Service.

The service enables rapid provisioning of model-based applications including support for data integration and data analytics, and is being used by various NASA programs including the International Space Station (ISS) Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Office.

Synthetic biology

Synthetic Biology

USRA has partnered with the Synthetic Biology Lab at NASA’s Ames Research Center, to conduct collaborative research in synthetic biology focusing on application for human space exploration and astrobiology. The goal is to harness engineered biological systems to further space exploration and science, to search for life beyond Earth, and to improve life on Earth.

Research is accomplished through lab and field work including instrument development, as well as missions such as the Eu:CROPIS mission which is planned to demonstrate synthetic biology technology in space.



USRA has partnered with the Center for Nanotechnology at NASA’s Ames Research Center, to develop state-of-the art technologies on the atomic scale including sensors and electronics that utilize nano-scale components.

USRA scientists lead development of a novel additive manufacturing approach for creating electronic circuitry and sensors using nano-particles, and a novel approach for creating nano-scale vacuum channel transistors and other nano-scale electronics.

Artificial intelligence and robotics

Artificial Intelligence and Robotics

USRA has partnered with the Intelligent Systems Division at NASA’s Ames Research Center to conduct collaborative research on AI and Robotics.

Current projects include research on planning and scheduling, as well as application of technologies from the mobile phone industry for intelligent systems. For example, this includes collaboration on the SPHERES Smartphone Project, which is part of the NASA Human Exploration Telerobotics Mission.

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