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Acronym List for Space and Astronomy As of 2006 May 4 This list is offered as a reference for translating commonly appearing acronyms in the space-related newsgroups. If I forgot or botched your favorite acronym, please let me know! Also, if there's an acronym not on this list that confuses you, drop me a line, and if I can figure it out, I'll add it to the list. The canonical version of this list is the HTML form, available at http://tla.surly.org/ . From that, I generate the text form for USENET posting. Note that this is intended to be a reference for frequently seen acronyms, and is most emphatically not encyclopedic. If I incorporated every acronym I ever saw, I'd soon run out of disk space. :-) The list will be posted at regular intervals, every 30 days. All comments regarding it are welcome; I'm reachable at email@example.com. NOTE: Due to the high level of spam I receive, you must include the text "tla" in the Subject header of your e-mail, or I will never see your message. Note that this list just tells what the acronyms stand for -- you're on your own for figuring out what they mean. Note also that the total number of acronyms in use far exceeds what I can list; special-purpose acronyms that are essentially always explained as they're introduced are omitted. Further, some acronyms stand for more than one thing; these acronyms appear on multiple lines. Thanks to everybody who's sent suggestions since the first version of the list! PS: Strictly speaking, most of these are "initialisms" or "abbreviations" rather than "acronyms"; pedantically, it's only an "acronym" if you make a word out of it, like "laser" or "radar." In practice, though, everybody calls 'em acronyms. A&A: Astronomy and Astrophysics AAO: Anglo-Australian Observatory AAS: American Astronomical Society AAS: American Astronautical Society AAVSO: American Association of Variable Star Observers ACE: Advanced Composition Explorer ACRV: Assured Crew Return Vehicle (or) Astronaut Crew Rescue Vehicle AD: Analog to Digital ADFRF: Ames-Dryden Flight Research Facility (now DFRC) (NASA) AFAIK: As Far As I Know AGN: Active Galactic Nucleus AGU: American Geophysical Union AIAA: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics AIPS: Astronomical Image Processing System AIT: Assembly, Integration, and Testing AJ: Astronomical Journal ALEXIS: Array of Low Energy X-ray Imaging Sensors ALPO: Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers ALS: Advanced Launch System ANSI: American National Standards Institute AOA: Abort Once Around (Shuttle abort plan) AOA: Angle Of Attack AOCS: Attitude and Orbit Control System Ap.J: Astrophysical Journal APL: Applied Physics Laboratory (at Johns Hopkins) APM: Attached Pressurized Module (a.k.a. Columbus) APU: Auxiliary Power Unit ARC: Ames Research Center (NASA) ARC: Astrophysical Research Consortium ARTEMIS: Advanced Relay TEchnology MISsion ASA: Astronomical Society of the Atlantic ASC: Agence Spatiale Canadienne (also CSA) ASI: Agenzia Spaziale Italiana ASP: Astronomical Society of the Pacific ASRM: Advanced Solid Rocket Motor ATDRS: Advanced Tracking and Data Relay Satellite ATLAS: Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Science ATM: Amateur Telescope Maker ATM: Apollo Telescope Mount (on Skylab) ATO: Abort To Orbit ATV: Automated Transfer Vehicle AU: Astronomical Unit AURA: Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy AW&ST: Aviation Week and Space Technology (a.k.a. AvLeak) AXAF: Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility BAe: British Aerospace (now BAE SYSTEMS) BATSE: Burst And Transient Source Experiment (on CGRO) BBXRT: Broad-Band X-Ray Telescope (ASTRO package) BDB: Big Dumb Booster BEM: Bug-Eyed Monster BH: Black Hole BIMA: Berkeley Illinois Maryland Array BIS: British Interplanetary Society BMDO: Ballistic Missile Defense Office (was SDIO) BNSC: British National Space Centre BTW: By The Way CARA: Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica C&T: Communications & Tracking CATS: Cheap Access To Space CCAFS: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station CCAS: Cape Canaveral Air Station (now once again CCAFS) CCD: Charge-Coupled Device CCDS: Centers for the Commercial Development of Space CD-ROM: Compact Disc Read-Only Memory CFA: Center For Astrophysics CFC: ChloroFluoroCarbon CFF: Columbus Free Flyer CFHT: Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope CFIT: Controlled Flight Into Terrain CG: Center of Gravity CGRO: (Arthur Holley) Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (was GRO) CHARA: Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy CIRRIS: Cryogenic InfraRed Radiance Instrument for Shuttle CIT: Circumstellar Imaging Telescope CM: Command Module (Apollo spacecraft) CM: Center of Mass CMBR: Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation CMCC: Central Mission Control Centre (ESA) CNES: Centre National d'Etude Spatiales CNO: Carbon-Nitrogen-Oxygen CNSR: Comet Nucleus Sample Return COBE: COsmic Background Explorer COMPTEL COMPton TELescope (on CGRO) COSTAR: Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement COTS: Cheap Off The Shelf CRAF: Comet Rendezvous / Asteroid Flyby CRRES: Combined Release / Radiation Effects Satellite CSA: Canadian Space Agency (also ASC) CSM: Command and Service Module (Apollo spacecraft) CSTC: Consolidated Space Test Center (USAF) CTIO: Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory CV: Cataclysmic Variable CXBR: Cosmic X-ray Background Radiation DC: Delta Clipper DCX: Delta Clipper eXperimental DDCU: DC-to-DC Converter Unit DDTE: Design, Development, Test, and Evaluation DFRC: Dryden Flight Research Center DFRF: Dryden Flight Research Facility (was ADFRF, now DFRC) DMSP: Defense Meteorological Satellite Program DOD: Department Of Defense (sometimes DoD) DOE: Department Of Energy DOT: Department Of Transportation DRS: Data Relay Satellite DRS: Direct Receiving Station DSO: Deep Sky (or Space) Object DSCS: Defense Satellite Communications System DSN: Deep Space Network DSP: Defense Support Program (USAF/NRO) EAC: European Astronaut Centre EAFB: Edwards Air Force Base ECS: Environmental Control System EDO: Extended Duration Orbiter EGRET: Energetic Gamma Ray Experiment Telescope (on CGRO) EJASA: Electronic Journal of the Astronomical Society of the Atlantic ELV: Expendable Launch Vehicle EMU: Extravehicular Mobility Unit EOS: Earth Observing System ER: Eastern Range (was ETR) ERS: Earth Resources Satellite (as in ERS-1) ESA: European Space Agency ESIS: European Space Information System ESO: European Southern Observatory ESOC: European Space Operations Centre ET: (Shuttle) External Tank ETLA: Extended Three Letter Acronym ETR: Eastern Test Range EUV: Extreme UltraViolet EUVE: Extreme UltraViolet Explorer EVA: ExtraVehicular Activity FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions FAST: Fast Auroral SnapshoT explorer FFT: Fast Fourier Transform FGS: Fine Guidance Sensors (on HST) FHST: Fixed Head Star Trackers (on HST) FIR: Far InfraRed FITS: Flexible Image Transport System FOC: Faint Object Camera (on HST) FOS: Faint Object Spectrograph (on HST) FOV: Field Of View FRC: Flight Research Center (old name for DFRC) FRR: Flight-Readiness Review FTETTM: From The Earth To The Moon FTL: Faster Than Light FTP: File Transfer Protocol FTS: Flight Telerobotic Servicer FUSE: Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer FWHM: Full Width at Half Maximum FYI: For Your Information G: Gravity GAS: Get-Away Special GBT: Green Bank Telescope GCVS: General Catalog of Variable Stars GEM: Giotto Extended Mission GEM: Galileo Europa Mission GEO: Geosynchronous Earth Orbit GDS: Great Dark Spot GHRS: Goddard High Resolution Spectrograph (on HST) GIF: Graphics Interchange Format GLOMR: Global Low-Orbiting Message Relay GLOW: Gross Lift-Off Weight GMC: Giant Molecular Cloud GMRT: Giant Meter-wave Radio Telescope GMT: Greenwich Mean Time (also called UT) GOES: Geostationary Orbiting Environmental Satellite GOX: Gaseous OXygen GPC: General Purpose Computer GPS: Global Positioning System GR: General Relativity GRB: Gamma Ray Burster GRC: Glenn Research Center (NASA) GRO: Gamma Ray Observatory (now CGRO) GRS: Gamma Ray Spectrometer (on Mars Observer) GRS: Great Red Spot GSC: Guide Star Catalog (for HST) GSFC: Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA) GTO: Geostationary Transfer Orbit GVI: Global Village Idiot HAO: High Altitude Observatory HD: Henry Draper catalog entry HEAO: High Energy Astronomical Observatory HeRA: Hermes Robotic Arm HF: High Frequency HGA: High Gain Antenna HLC: Heavy Lift Capability HLV: Heavy Lift Vehicle HMC: Halley Multicolor Camera (on Giotto) HOTOL: HOrizontal TakeOff and Landing (a proposed SSTO craft) HR: Hertzsprung-Russell (diagram) HRMS: High Resolution Microwave Survey HRI: High Resolution Imager (on ROSAT) HSP: High Speed Photometer (on HST) HST: Hubble Space Telescope HTH: Hope This Helps HTHL: Horizontal Takeoff Horizontal Landing HTVL: Horizontal Takeoff Vertical Landing HUT: Hopkins Ultraviolet Telescope (ASTRO package) HV: High Voltage IAPPP: International Amateur/Professional Photoelectric Photometry IAU: International Astronomical Union IAUC: IAU Circular ICE: International Cometary Explorer IDA: International Dark-sky Association IDL: Interactive Data Language IGM: InterGalactic Medium IGY: International Geophysical Year IIRC: If I Recall Correctly IMHO: In My Humble Opinion IMO: International Meteor Organization INTEGRA: INTErnational Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory IOTA: Infrared-Optical Telescope Array IOTA: International Occultation Timing Association IPS: Inertial Pointing System IR: InfraRed IRAF: Image Reduction and Analysis Facility IRAS: InfraRed Astronomical Satellite IRFNA: Inhibited Red Fuming Nitric Acid ISAS: Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (Japan) ISM: InterStellar Medium ISO: Infrared Space Observatory ISO: International Standards Organization ISPM: International Solar Polar Mission (now Ulysses) ISPP: In-Situ Propellant Production ISS: International Space Station ISY: International Space Year IUE: International Ultraviolet Explorer IUS: Inertial Upper Stage JEM: Japanese Experiment Module (for SSF) JGR: Journal of Geophysical Research JILA: Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics JPL: Jet Propulsion Laboratory JSC: Johnson Space Center (NASA) KAO: Kuiper Airborne Observatory KPNO: Kitt Peak National Observatory KSC: Kennedy Space Center (NASA) KTB: Cretaceous-Tertiary Boundary (from German) L: Lagrange (as in Lagrange points L1 through L5) LANL: Los Alamos National Laboratory LaRC: Langley Research Center (NASA) LASER: Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation LDEF: Long Duration Exposure Facility LEM: Lunar Excursion Module (a.k.a. LM) (Apollo spacecraft) LEO: Low Earth Orbit LeRC: Lewis Research Center (NASA; now GRC) LEST: Large Earth-based Solar Telescope LFSA: List of Frequently Seen Acronyms (!) LGA: Low Gain Antenna LGM: Little Green Men LH: Liquid Hydrogen (also LH2 or LHX) LITVC: Liquid Injection Thrust Vector Control LLNL: Lawrence-Livermore National Laboratory LM: Lunar Module (a.k.a. LEM) (Apollo spacecraft) LMC: Large Magellanic Cloud LN2: Liquid N2 (Nitrogen) LOX: Liquid OXygen LPO: La Palma Observatory LPV: Long Period Variable LRB: Liquid Rocket Booster LSR: Local Standard of Rest LTP: Lunar Transient Phenomenon M: Messier (as in M31, M13, M57, etcetera) MACRO: Monopoles, Astrophysics, and Cosmic Ray Observatory MB: Manned Base MCC: Mission Control Center MCD: Minimum Cost Design MCO: Mars Climate Orbiter MECO: Main Engine CutOff MER: Mars Exploration Rover(s) MERIS: Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer MGS: Mars Global Surveyor MHD: MagnetoHydroDynamic MLI: Multi-Layer Insulation MMH: MonoMethyl Hydrazine MMT: Multiple Mirror Telescope MMU: Manned Maneuvering Unit MNRAS: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society MO: Mars Observer MOC: Mars Observer Camera (on MO and MGS) MODIS: Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer MOL: Manned Orbiting Laboratory MOLA: Mars Observer Laser Altimeter (on Mars Observer) MOMV: Manned Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle MOTV: Manned Orbital Transfer Vehicle MPC: Minor Planets Circular MPEC: Minor Planets Electronic Circular MPL: Mars Polar Lander MRSR: Mars Rover and Sample Return MRSRM: Mars Rover and Sample Return Mission MSFC: (George C.) Marshall Space Flight Center (NASA) MTC: Man Tended Capability NACA: National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (became NASA) NASA: National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASDA: NAtional Space Development Agency (Japan) NASM: National Air and Space Museum NASP: National AeroSpace Plane NBS: National Bureau of Standards (now NIST) NDV: NASP Derived Vehicle NEAR: Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (now named NEAR Shoemaker) NERVA: Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application NG: NewsGroup NGC: New General Catalog NGST: Next Generation Space Telescope NICMOS: Near Infrared Camera / Multi Object Spectrometer (HST upgrade) NIMS: Near-Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (on Galileo) NIR: Near InfraRed NIST: National Institute of Standards and Technology (was NBS) NLDP: National Launch Development Program NOAA: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAO: National Optical Astronomy Observatories NORAD: NORth American aerospace Defense NRAO: National Radio Astronomy Observatory NRO: National Reconnaissance Office NS: Neutron Star NSA: National Security Agency NSF: National Science Foundation NSO: National Solar Observatory NSSDC: National Space Science Data Center NTR: Nuclear Thermal Rocket(ry) NTT: New Technology Telescope OAO: Orbiting Astronomical Observatory OCST: Office of Commercial Space Transportation OMB: Office of Management and Budget OMS: Orbital Maneuvering System OPF: Orbiter Processing Facility ORFEUS: Orbiting and Retrievable Far and Extreme Ultraviolet Spectrometer OSC: Orbital Sciences Corporation OSCAR: Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio OSSA: Office of Space Science and Applications OSSE: Oriented Scintillation Spectrometer Experiment (on CGRO) OT: Off-Topic OTA: Optical Telescope Assembly (on HST) OTHB: Over The Horizon Backscatter OTV: Orbital Transfer Vehicle OV: Orbital Vehicle PAM: Payload Assist Module PAM-D: Payload Assist Module, Delta-class PDS: Planetary Data System PI: Principal Investigator PLSS: Portable Life Support System PM: Pressurized Module PMC: Permanently Manned Capability PMIRR: Pressure Modulated InfraRed Radiometer (on Mars Observer) PMT: PhotoMultiplier Tube PPM: Positions and Proper Motions (catalog) PSF: Point Spread Function PSR: PulSaR PV: Photovoltaic PVO: Pioneer Venus Orbiter QSO: Quasi-Stellar Object RADAR: RAdio Detection And Ranging RAS: Royal Astronomical Society RASC: Royal Astronomical Society of Canada RCI: Rodent Cage Interface (for SLS mission) RCS: Radar Cross Section RCS: Reaction Control System REM: Rat Enclosure Module (for SLS mission) RF: Radio Frequency RFI: Radio Frequency Interference RFNA: Red Fuming Nitric Acid RIACS: Research Institute for Advanced Computer Science RMS: Remote Manipulator System RNGC: Revised New General Catalog ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing ROSAT: ROentgen SATellite ROUS: Rodents Of Unusual Size (I don't believe they exist) RSA: Russian Space Agency RSN: Radio SuperNova RSN: Real Soon Now RTG: Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator RTLS: Return To Launch Site (Shuttle abort plan) SAA: South Atlantic Anomaly SAGA: Solar Array Gain Augmentation (for HST) SAMPEX: Solar Anomalous and Magnetospheric Particle EXplorer SAO: Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory SAR: Search And Rescue SAR: Synthetic Aperture Radar SARA: Satellite pour Astronomie Radio Amateur SAREX: Search and Rescue Exercise SAREX: Space Amateur Radio Experiment SAS: Space Activity Suit SAS: Space Adaptation Syndrome SAT: Synthetic Aperture Telescope S/C: SpaceCraft SCA: Shuttle Carrier Aircraft SCT: Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope SDI: Strategic Defense Initiative SDIO: Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (now BMDO) SEDS: Students for the Exploration and Development of Space SEI: Space Exploration Initiative SEST: Swedish ESO Submillimeter Telescope SETI: Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence SID: Sudden Ionospheric Disturbance SIR: Shuttle Imaging Radar SIRTF: Space (formerly Shuttle) InfraRed Telescope Facility SL: (Comet) Shoemaker-Levy SL: SpaceLab SLAR: Side-Looking Airborne Radar SLC: Space Launch Complex SLS: Space(lab) Life Sciences SMC: Small Magellanic Cloud SME: Solar Mesosphere Explorer SMEX: SMall EXplorers SMM: Solar Maximum Mission SN: SuperNova (e.g., SN1987A) SNR: Signal to Noise Ratio SNR: SuperNova Remnant SNU: Solar Neutrino Units SOFIA: Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy SOHO: SOlar Heliospheric Observatory SPAN: Space Physics and Analysis Network SPDM: Special Purpose Dextrous Manipulator SPOT: Satellite Pour l'Observation de la Terre SPS: Solar Power Satellite SR: Special Relativity SRB: Solid Rocket Booster SRM: Solid Rocket Motor SSF: Space Station Fred (er, Freedom) (Superseded by ISS) SSI: Solid-State Imager (on Galileo) SSI: Space Studies Institut SSME: Space Shuttle Main Engine SSPF: Space Station Processing Facility SSPS: Sky Survey Prototype System SSRMS: Space Station Remote Manipulator System SSRT: Single Stage Rocket Technology SST: Spectroscopic Survey Telescope SST: SuperSonic Transport SSTO: Single Stage To Orbit STIS: Space Telescope Imaging Spectrometer (to replace FOC and GHRS) STS: Shuttle Transport System (or) Space Transportation System STScI: Space Telescope Science Institute STSDAS: Space Telescope Science Data Analysis System SWAS: Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite SWF: ShortWave Fading TAL: Transatlantic Abort Landing (Shuttle abort plan) TANSTAAFL: There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch TAU: Thousand Astronomical Unit (mission) TCS: Thermal Control System TDRS: Tracking and Data Relay Satellite TDRSS: Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System TEA: Torque Equilibrium Attitude TES: Thermal Emission Spectrometer (on Mars Observer) THEMIS: THermal EMission Imaging System (on Mars 2001 Odyssey) TIROS: Television InfraRed Observation Satellite TLA: Three Letter Acronym TOMS: Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer TOPS: Toward Other Planetary Systems TPS: Thermal Protection System TSS: Targeted Search System TSS: Tethered Satellite System TSTO: Two Stage To Orbit (also 2STO) UARS: Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite UBM: Unpressurized Berthing Mechanism UDMH: Unsymmetrical DiMethyl Hydrazine UFO: Unidentified Flying Object UGC: Uppsala General Catalog UHF: Ultra High Frequency UIT: Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (Astro package) UKST: United Kingdom Schmidt Telescope USAF: United States Air Force USMP: United States Microgravity Payload USNO: United States Naval Observatory UT: Universal Time (a.k.a. GMT, or Zulu Time; cf UTC) UTC: Coordinated Universal Time (subtly different from UT) UV: UltraViolet UVS: UltraViolet Spectrometer VAB: Vehicle Assembly Building (formerly Vertical Assembly Building) VAFB: Vandenberg Air Force Base VEEGA: Venus-Earth-Earth Gravity Assist (Galileo flight path) VHF: Very High Frequency VLA: Very Large Array VLBA: Very Long Baseline Array VLBI: Very Long Baseline Interferometry VLF: Very Low Frequency VLT: Very Large Telescope VMS: Vertical Motion Simulator VOIR: Venus Orbiting Imaging Radar (superseded by VRM) VPF: Vertical Processing Facility VRM: Venus Radar Mapper (now called Magellan) VTHL: Vertical Takeoff Horizontal Landing VTVL: Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing WD: White Dwarf WFF: Wallops Flight Facility WFPC: Wide Field / Planetary Camera (on HST) WFPCII: Replacement for WFPC WIYN: Wisconsin / Indiana / Yale / NOAO telescope WR: Western Range (was WTR) WSF: Wake Shield Facility WSMR: White Sands Missile Range WTR: Western Test Range WUPPE: Wisconsin Ultraviolet PhotoPolarimter Experiment (Astro package) XMM: X-ray Multi Mirror XUV: eXtreme UltraViolet YSO: Young Stellar Object Z: Zulu (see UT) -- Mark Bradford (firstname.lastname@example.org) <> To err is human, to moo bovine. "It is good to have an open mind, but not at both ends."