Adventures in AcronymLand

An A,B,C book

In honor of Psyche mission’s PMSR, our first big review, I post here all the year’s tweets on NASA acronyms.

A is for ABC (Agency Baseline Cost, total NASA is allocating, including all reserves) #NASAcronyms #learningtoread #staytuned @NASAPsyche

B is for BFT (Baseline Functional Test, operability compatibility & interfaces, shd be 4 ppl too) #NASAcronyms #learningtoread @NASAPsyche

C is for CSR (Concept Study Report, 1500 pages, but it’s just a Step 2concept, just a proposal) #NASAcronyms #learningtoread @NASAPsyche

D is for DSOC (Deep Space Optical Comm, it’s the future today: #NASAcronyms #learningtoread @NASAPsyche

E is for EP (Electric Propulsion, straight from Star Wars, photo from @sslmda) #NASAcronyms #learningtoread @NASAPsyche

F is for FSWTB (Flight Software Testbed) Test-As-You-Fly, Baby! in general: #NASAcronyms #learningtoread @NASAPsyche

G is for GRNS (Gamma Ray & Neutron Spectrometer: galactic cosmic rays fr composition, thx @JHL_APL!)#NASAcronyms #learningtoread @NASAPsyche

H is for HPGe (High Purity Germanium — the kind of detector crystal in used in GRNS [see “G”]) #NASAcronyms #learningtoread @NASAPsyche

I is for IR (Inheritance Review, 1 for each instrument, just done, wt r changes fm last-built & proposed plans?) #NASAcronyms @NASAPsyche

J is for JCL (Joint Confidence Level, integrated uncertainty analysis that project cost & schedule = or < target) #NASAcronyms @NASAPsyche

K is for KDP (Key Decision Point, the NASA HQ reviews before moving to next Phase; see #NASAcronyms @NASAPsyche

L is for LILT (Low Intensity Low Temperature, a special category of solar cells for deep space!) #NASAcronyms @NASAPsyche

M is for MEL (Master Equipment List, constantly updated comprehensive list of EVERYTHING we need to build, do not confuse w MMEL) #NASAcronyms @NASAPsyche

N is of course for NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, who makes this all possible). N is also for NS (Neutron Spectrometer, to help us get the composition of Psyche) #NASAcronyms @NASAPsyche

O is for OSIRIS-REx (Origins Spectral Interpretation ResourceIdentification and Security-Regolith Explorer, our sister Arizona NASA mission, #NASAcronyms @NASAPsyche

P is for Psyche — oh wait, not an acronym! — it’s really for PMSR (Project Mission System Review, the big review in Phase B, ours is in April 2018. Review start at top — system level — and work down into subsystems and sub-sub etc with time.) #NASAcronyms @NASAPsyche

Q is for QSR (Quarterly Status Review; Psyche’s next one is in February. Note to self: no MMR when there is a QSR. Also wish I knew a pithier “Q.” NASAphiles?) #NASAcronyms @NASAPsyche

R is for REVIEW. Challenge: Could you make a whole alphabet just of reviews? But maybe today R is for RW (Reaction Wheel, a flywheel used for spacecraft attitude control) #NASAcronyms @NASAPsyche

S is for SRB (Standing Review Board, the outside group who reviews the mission periodically on behalf of NASA — we’re in the middle of putting ours together!) #NASAcronyms @NASAPsyche

T is for TLA (Three Letter Acronym: Psyche’s CSR [See “C”] glossary has 539 acronyms, 45.5% of which are TLAs) #NASAcronyms @NASAPsyche

U is for UPL (The DSN Uplink Tracking & Command subsystem. D is for DSN. (Deep Space Network)) We depend on you, baby! Don’t these big attentive dishes completely thrill you? #NASAcronyms @NASAPsyche

V is for V&V (Verification and Validation) Verify that the implementation meets the intention. Validate that the intention meets the mission’s needs. Over and over, crimson and clover. How to make something that works independently in space for a decade. #NASAcronyms @NASAPsyche

W is for WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) The titles, responsibilities, and account numbers of all the roles needed to get the whooooole project done. Here’s a teeny high-level scrap of one. #NASAcronyms @NASAPsyche

X is for XFC (Xenon Flow Controller, the valve that feeds the xenon from the GIANT tank into the ultra-amazing Hall thrusters). Another thing I didn’t anticipate encountering in my life: > 900 kg xenon. #NASAcronyms @NASAPsyche

Y is for…nothing I know of. Here’s a PSA: Some organizations use ATLO (Assembly, Test, & Launch Ops). Competing organizations use SIT (System Integration and Test). Thus acronyms proliferate out of animosity among competitors. #NASAcronyms @NASAPsyche P.S. Anyone know a “Z”?

And finally, Z is for Z-axis (well, +Z-axis), where our high-gain antenna, magnetometers, and gamma ray and neutron spectrometer are mounted on the Psyche spacecraft (Thx @LongHairNasaGuy!). And thus ends the @NASAPsyche #NASAcronyms Alphabet Book!

Practice translation for the student #NASAcronyms @NASAPsyche actual quote: “We’ve WAMmed some guys to work on the TWTAs so I can ask them to give us a WAG on the spare parts.”

And a bonus for the blog: an acronym-in-an-acronym (a fractal acronym?). DSM — Deployable SPT Mechanism, where SPT stands for Stationary Plasma Thruster.

The NASA Psyche mission: Journey to a Metal World

The story of a team that is creating a NASA robotic space mission, beginning to end.

Lindy Elkins-Tanton

Written by

Lead of NASA Psyche mission; Managing Director of Interplanetary Initiative at ASU; co-founder of Beagle Learning (

The NASA Psyche mission: Journey to a Metal World

The story of a team that is creating a NASA robotic space mission, beginning to end.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade