The Only Thing NASA Is Better At Than Space Exploration: Making Up Acronyms

The sounding rocket you can see above will be launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the 4th of December, and according to NASA it “will be MUSIC to the ears of aspiring and early career engineers testing new space technology on a suborbital vehicle.” That’s because the name of the payload stands for Multiple User Suborbital Instrument Carrier (MUSIC).

I am a long-time admirer of NASA’s creativity when it comes to creating acronyms for their missions. Here is a selection of the best.

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ARTEMIS

Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction with the Sun


BARREL

Balloon Array for Radiation belt Relativistic Electron Losses

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CALIPSO

Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation satellite

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CATS

Cloud-Aerosol Transport System

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FUSE

Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer

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GRAIL

Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory

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IMAGE

Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration

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IRIS

Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph

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MESSENGER

Mercury, Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging

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OSIRIS-REX

Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security - Regolith Explorer

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SOFIA

Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy

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SOHO

Solar and Heliospheric Observatory

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STEREO

Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory

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TRACE

Transition Region and Coronal Explorer

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TWINS

Two Wide-Angle Imaging Neutral-Atom Spectrometers

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WISE

Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer

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All images by NASA

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