Advancing Exploration & Science through Research & Innovative Information Systems

An underlying philosophy and approach of the Institute is that successful research is interdisciplinary, and that challenging applications associated with NASA’s mission provide a driving force for developing innovative information systems and other technologies. To implement this approach, research staff undertakes collaborative projects with research groups at NASA and elsewhere, integrating computer science with other disciplines to support NASA’s mission.

Quantum Information Science

Quantum Information Science

USRA, NASA, and Google have established a joint Quantum Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (QuAIL).

Research includes fundamental research in quantum physics and computer science, as well as applied research exploring application of quantum computing to various domains including planning and scheduling and fault management for various space and aeronautics applications.

USRA manages the QuAIL Science Operations to engage the broader research community, and manages the technical operations of a D-Wave 2000QTM system located at NASA's Ames Research Center. A percentage of computing time is available to U.S. universities and non-profits. More information about this program is available at Request for Proposals.

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Artificial Intelligence and Robotics

Artificial Intelligence and Robotics

USRA has partnered with the Intelligent Systems Division at NASA's Ames Research Center to conduct collaborative research on AI and Robotics.

Current projects include research on planning and scheduling, as well as application of technologies from the mobile phone industry for intelligent systems. For example, this includes collaboration on the SPHERES Smartphone Project, which is part of the NASA Human Exploration Telerobotics Mission.

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Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing

USRA has partnered with the NASA Headquarters Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) to support various data needs in NASA through the research and development of a novel Model-Based Cloud Computing Service.

The service enables rapid provisioning of model-based applications including support for data integration and data analytics, and is being used by various NASA programs including the International Space Station (ISS) Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Office.

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News & Publications

  • High Performance Computing Request for Proposal

    May 2021

    The Universities Space Research Association (USRA) is pleased to invite proposals for University-Led High Performance Computing (ULHPC) Research Projects, to be conducted in collaboration with the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) Center at NASA’s Ames Research Center (see This call is open to all accredited universities and colleges in the U.S. acting on behalf of their faculty members.

  • USRA Q2B Applied NISQ Computing Paper Award

    October 18, 2020

    Submissions are open for the first USRA Q2B Applied NISQ Computing Paper Award. Every paper appeared as a preprint in 2020 is eligible for nomination. An additional cover letter/synopsis is required. Prize includes a featured invited presentation at Q2B conference and free compute time on a variety of quantum computing platforms. All info here.

  • Quantum Computing RFP

    September 15, 2020

    USRA, Standard Charted Bank and D-Wave announced that U.S Universities and Non-profit institutions can submit proposals for use of the D-Wave 2000Q quantum annealer hosted at NASA Ames. Proposals are sought effective immediately and can gain free compute time to be used until December 2020. See the request for proposals for more details.

  • Quantum Group Publications

    Publications from the team in the last 12 months.

    The team works primarily with NASA Ames Quantum AI Laboratory led by Eleanor G. Rieffel under the NASA Academics Mission Services Contract. It is supported as well by the National Science Foundation SpecEES and Expeditions in Computing program and by the DARPA ONISQ program.

  • 7th International Adiabatic Quantum Computing (AQC) Conference - 2018

    June 25 - 28, 2018

    Adiabatic Quantum Computing (AQC) and Quantum Annealing are computational methods that have been proposed to solve combinatorial optimization and sampling problems. Several efforts are now underway to manufacture processors that implement these strategies. The AQC 2018 Conference brings together researchers from different communities to explore this computational paradigm. The goal of the conference is to initiate a dialogue on the challenges that must be overcome to realize useful adiabatic quantum computations in existing or near-term hardware.

  • RIACS 25th Anniversary Timeline

  • RIACS 25th Anniversary Brochure