Table of Contents
Department of Defense
Federal Aviation Administration
Department of Commerce
Deaprtment of Energy
Department of Interior
Federal Communications Commission
National Science Foundation
Department of State
Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
U.S. Information Agency
Aeronautics and Space Report Glossary
ACDA Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
ACE Advanced Composition Explorer
ACTS Advanced Communications Technology Satellite
ADEOS Advanced Earth Observing Satellite (Japan)
AEB Brazilian space agency
AFB Air Force Base
AGRE Active Geophysical Rocket Experiment
AMOS Air Force Maui Optical Site
ARS Agricultural Research Service (USDA)
ASTP Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
ATLAS Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Science
AVHRR Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer
AXAF Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility

BIA Bureau of Indian Affairs (DoI)
Black hole A completely collapsed, massive dead star whose gravitational field is so powerful that no radiation can escape from it; because of this property, its existence must be inferred rather than recorded from radiation emissions
BMDO Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (formerly SDIO)

CIA Central Intelligence Agency
CIS Commonwealth of Independent States
Corona The outer atmosphere of the Sun, extending about a million miles above the surface
Cosmic rays Not forms of energy, such as x-rays or gamma rays, but particles of matter
COSPAR Congress for Space Research
Cospas Russian acronym meaning Space System for Search of Vessels in Distress
CRISTA-SPAS Cryogenic Infrared Spectrometers and Telescopes for the Atmosphere-Shuttle Pallet Satellite

DMSP Defense Meteorological Satellite Program—DoD's polar orbiting weather satellite system
DoC Department of Commerce
DoD Department of Defense
DoE Department of Energy
DoI Department of the Interior
DoS Department of State
DoT Department of Transportation
DSP Defense Support Program

El Niño A warm inshore current annually flowing south along the coast of Ecuador around the end of December and extending about every 7 to 10 years down the coast of Peru
ELV Expendable Launch Vehicle
EOS Earth Observing System—a series of satellites, part of NASA's Mission to Planet Earth, being designed for launch at the end of the 1990's to gather data on global change
EOSDIS EOS Data and Information System
EPA Environmental Protection Agency
EROS Earth Resources Observation System (USGS)
ESA European Space Agency
EU European Union
EUMETSAT European Union for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites
EVA Extravehicular activity

FAA Federal Aviation Administration
FAS Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA)
FCC Federal Communications Commission
FIRS-2 Far Infrared Spectrometer 2
Fly-by-light The use of light signals to connect the pilot's control devices with the aircraft control surfaces, or the use of light (fiber optic) control connections with no mechanical backup linkages and providing the pilot direct control of aircraft motion rather than control surface position
Fly-by-wire The use of electrical signals to connect the pilot's control devices with the aircraft control surfaces, or the use of electrical control connections with no mechanical backup linkages and providing the pilot direct control of aircraft motion rather than control surface position
Free flight A concept being developed by the FAA and the aviation community in which pilots could ultimately choose their own routes, speeds, and altitudes in flight, thus improving safety, while saving fuel, time, and natural resources
FSA Farm Service Agency (USDA)
FY Fiscal year

Gamma rays The shortest of electromagnetic radiations, emitted by some radioactive substances
GATT General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade
GE General Electric Company
Geostationary Traveling around Earth's equator at an altitude of at least 35,000 kilometers and at a speed matching that of Earth's rotation, thereby maintaining a constant relation to points on Earth
Geosynchronous geostationary
GIS Geographic Information System
GOES Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite
GPHS General purpose heat source
GPS Global Positioning System
GPS-MET GPS-Meteorological (experiment)
GRACE Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment

Heliosphere The region of the Sun's influence, including the Sun and the interplanetary medium
HST Hubble Space Telescope
Hypersonic Faster than Mach 4 and faster than "high speed"
Hyperspectral An instrument capability using many very narrow spectral frequency bands (300 or more), enabling a satellite-based passive sensor to discriminate specific features or phenomena on the body being observed (e.g., Earth)

ICBM Intercontinental ballistic missile
IGOS Integrated Global Observing Strategy
INMARSAT International Mobile (formerly Maritime) Satellite Organization
Integrated modular avionics Aircraft-unique avionics cabinet that replaces multiple black boxes with shared common equipment and generic software
INTELSAT International Telecommunications Satellite (Organization)
Interferometry The production and measurement of interference from two or more coherent wave trains emitted from the same source
Internet An international computer network that began about 1970 as the NSF Net; very slowly it became a collection of more than 40,000 independently managed computer networks worldwide that have adopted common protocols to permit the exchange of electronic information
Ionosphere That region of Earth's atmosphere so named because of the presence of ionized atoms in layers that reflect radio waves and shortwave transmissions
IRS Indian Remote Sensing (satellite)
ISO International Organization for Standardization
ISS International Space Station
ITA International Trade Administration
IVA Intravehicular vehicle

JCSAT Japanese Communications Satellite
JPL Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA)

K-band Radio frequencies in the 20-gigahertz range
Ka-band Radio frequencies in the 30-gigahertz range
Km kilometer
Ku-band Radio frequencies in the 11­12 gigahertz range

Landsat Land [remote sensing] Satellite; also known as ERTS, a series of satellites designed to collect information about the Earth's natural resources
Laser Light amplified by simulated emission of radiation—a device that produces an intense beam of light that may be strong enough to vaporize the hardest and most heat-resistant materials, first constructed in 1960
LDEF Long-Duration Exposure Facility
LH2 Liquid hydrogen
LOX Liquid oxygen
LWRHU Lightweight radioisotope heater unit

M Meter
M Mach number—a relative number named after Austrian physicist Ernst Mach (1838­1916) and indicating speed with respect to that of sound in a given medium; in dry air at 32 degrees Fahrenheit and at sea level, for example, Mach 1 equals approximately 741 mph or 1,192 kilometers per hour
Mach See M
Magnetosphere The region of Earth's atmosphere in which ionized gas plays an important role in the atmospheric dynamics and where, consequently, the geomagnetic field also exerts an important influence; other magnetic planets, such as Jupiter, have magnetospheres that are similar in many respects to Earth's
MMH Monomethyl hydrazine
MMS Minerals Management Service (DoI)
MSS Multispectral Scanner (Landsat instrument)
MSTI Miniature Sensor Technology Integration
MSX Midcourse Space Experiment (BMDO)
MTCR Missile Technology Control Regime
MTPE Mission to Planet Earth—a program developed by NASA and the world scientific community to provide scientists with data that will allow them to understand the planet as a total system and to measure the effects of the human population on it

NAPP National Aerial Photography Program
NAS National Airspace System (FAA)
NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NASDA National Space Development Agency (of Japan)
NASS National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA)
NDOP National Digital Orthophoto Program
NEAR Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous
Neutron star Any of a class of extremely dense, compact stars thought to be composed primarily of neutrons; see pulsar
NIMA National Imagery and Mapping Agency
NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (DoC); also the designation of that administration's Sun-synchronous satellites in polar orbit
nominal Functioning as designed
NPS National Park Service (DoI)
NRCS National Resources Conservation Service (USDA)
NRO National Reconnaissance Office (DoD)
NSF National Science Foundation
NTIA National Telecommunications and Information Administration (DoC); the Federal Government's radio spectrum manager, which coordinates the use of low-Earth orbit (100 to 350 nautical miles above Earth) satellite networks, such as those for Landsat, Navstar GPS, the Space Shuttle, and TIROS, with other countries of the world

OA Office of Aerospace (DoC-ITA)
OASC Office of Air and Space Commercialization (DoC)
OAST Office of Aeronautics and Space Technology (NASA)
ODERACS Orbital Debris Radar Calibration Spheres
OLMSA Office of Life and Microgravity Sciences and Applications (NASA)
order of
magnitude An amount equal to 10 times a given value; thus if some quantity was 10 times as great as another quantity, it would be an order of magnitude greater; if 100 times as great, it would be larger by two orders of magnitude
ORFEUS-SPAS Orbiting and Retrievable Far and Extreme Ultraviolet Spectrograph-Shuttle Pallet Satellite
OT Office of Telecommunications (DoC-ITA)

PAMS-STU Passive Aerodynamically stabilized Magnetically Damped Satellite-Satellite Test Unit
PAS PanAmSat
Photogrammetry The science or art of obtaining reliable measurements by means of photography
POES Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite (program)
Pulsar A pulsating radio star, which is thought to be a rapidly spinning neutron star; the latter is formed when the core of a violently exploding star called a supernova collapses inward and becomes compressed together; pulsars emit extremely regular pulses of radio waves

Quasar A class of rare cosmic objects of extreme luminosity and strong radio emission; many investigators attribute their high-energy generation to gas spiraling at high velocity into a massive black hole

Ramjet A jet engine with no mechanical compressor, consisting of specially shaped tubes or ducts open at both ends, the air necessary for combustion being shoved into the duct and compressed by the forward motion of the engine
RP-1 Rocket Propellant 1 (kerosene)
RSRU Remote Sensing Research Unit (USDA)
RTG Radioisotope thermoelectric generator

SAO Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
SAR Synthetic Aperture Radar
Scramjet Supersonic-combustion ramjet
SLBM Submarine-launched ballistic missile
Solar wind A stream of particles accelerated by the heat of the solar corona (outer region of the Sun) to velocities great enough to permit them to escape from the Sun's gravitational field
SPACEHAB Commercial module for housing Shuttle experiments
SPARTAN Shuttle Pointed Autonomous Research Tool for Astronomy
SPAS Shuttle Pallet Satellite
SPOT Satellite Pour l'Observation de la Terre (French satellite for the observation of the Earth)
SRB Solid Rocket Booster
SSBUV Shuttle Solar Atmosphere Backscatter Ultraviolet (spectrometer)
SSCE Solid Surface Combustion Experiment
SSME Space Shuttle Main Engine
START Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty
STS Space Transportation System

TDRS Tracking and Data Relay Satellite
TM Thematic Mapper (Landsat instrument)

UARS Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite
U.N. United Nations
U.S. United States
USDA U.S. Department of Agriculture
USGS U.S. Geological Survey (DoI)
USIA U.S. Information Agency
USML U.S. Microgravity Laboratory
USMP U.S. Microgravity Payload

VHF Very High Frequency; any radio frequency between 30 and 300 megacycles per second
VOA Voice of America

Wind shear Variation of wind speed and wind direction with respect to a horizontal or vertical plane; powerful but invisible downdrafts called microbursts focus intense amounts of vertical energy in a narrow funnel that can force an aircraft to the ground nose first if the aircraft is caught underneath
WSF Wake Shield Facility

X-rays Radiations of very short wavelengths, beyond the ultraviolet in the spectrum

back Previous Top of Page Next back