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Ames Research Center

The Ames Research Center (ARC), also known as NASA Ames, is a major NASA research center at Moffett Federal Airfield in California's Silicon Valley. It was founded in 1939 as the second National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) laboratory. That agency was dissolved and its assets and personnel transferred to the newly created National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on October 1, 1958. NASA Ames is named in honor of Joseph Sweetman Ames, a physicist and one of the founding members of NACA. At last estimate NASA Ames has over US$3 billion in capital equipment, 2,300 research personnel and a US$860 million annual budget.
The Pioneer program's eight successful space missions from 1965 to 1978 were managed by Charles Hall at Ames, initially aimed at the inner Solar System. By 1972, it supported the bold flyby missions to Jupiter and Saturn with Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11. Those two missions were trail blazers (radiation environment, new moons, gravity-assist flybys) for the planners of the more complex Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 missions, launched five years later. In 1978, the end of the program brought about a return to the inner solar system, with the Pioneer Venus Orbiter and Multiprobe, this time using orbital insertion rather than flyby missions.
Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is a joint venture of the U.S. and German aerospace agencies, NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) to make an infrared telescope platform that can fly at altitudes high enough to be in the infrared-transparent regime above the water vapor in the Earth's atmosphere. The aircraft is supplied by the U.S., and the infrared telescope by Germany. Modifications of the Boeing 747SP airframe to accommodate the telescope, mission-unique equipment and large external door were made by L-3 Communications Integrated Systems of Waco, Texas.
In addition, Ames has played a support role in a number of missions, most notably the Mars Pathfinder and Mars Exploration Rover missions, where the Ames Intelligent Robotics Laboratory played a key role. NASA Ames was a partner on the Mars Phoenix, a Mars Scout Program mission to send a high-latitude lander to Mars, deployed a robotic arm to dig trenches up to 1.6 feet (one half meter) into the layers of water ice and analyzing the soil composition. Ames is also a partner on the Mars Science Laboratory and its Curiosity rover, a next generation Mars rover to explore for signs of organics and complex molecules.
The Human Systems Integration Division "advances human-centered design and operations of complex aerospace systems through analysis, experimentation, and modelling of human performance and human-automation interaction to make dramatic improvements in safety, efficiency and mission success". For decades, the Human Systems Integration Division has been on the leading edge of human-centered aerospace research. The Division is home to over 100 researchers, contractors and administrative staff.
The Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel (UPWT) was completed in 1956 at a cost of $27 million under the Unitary Plan Act of 1949. Since its completion, the UPWT facility has been the most heavily used NASA wind tunnel. Every major commercial transport and almost every military jet built in the United States over the last 40 years has been tested in this facility. Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo spacecraft, as well as Space Shuttle models, were also tested in this tunnel complex.