Nasa Public Lessons Learned System

Nasa's engineers share the lessons they learn -- good and bad -- when designing, building, and operating space missions. They use the database to avoid making the same mistakes as earlier engineers. It also lets them pick proven solutions rather than reinventing the wheel.

Nasa's Office of the Chief Engineer screens and releases some of the lesson reports to the public through the Public Lessons Learned System. "Each lesson describes the original driving event and provides recommendations that feed into NASA’s continual improvement via training, best practices, policies, and procedures." Some examples include:

  • Lesson 0705 - Micrometeoroid Protection, for example, reviews the basics for designing a spacecraft's protection from the dust, pebbles, and debris that may hit it in space. 
  • Lesson 0283 - Magellan (MGN) High Electronic Temperatures documents how outgassing from the spacecraft may have compromised the electronics of the Magellan space probe. Temperatures ran about 20 degrees C higher than intended which forced the mission team to alter its orbit around Venus and reduced the data sent back to Earth.
  • Lesson 0423 - Viking Navigation - Unexpected Non-gravitational Acceleration Due to Lander Outgassing explains how gasses embedded in the Viking Orbiter and Lander's parachutes and blankets vented into space and nudged the spacecraft off course during its journey from Earth to Mars. The JPL mission team factored it into the planned mid-course correction, but recommended factoring these forces during the design stage.

The left sidebar lets you find lessons learned by Nasa Center, Mission Directorate, or Topic. The system filters the results each time you click on the sidebar so remember to hit the "reset" button when you want to start over.