Space Science Research at APL
The Civil Space Business Area is driven by research, both basic and applied, in a variety of fields. The academic quality of our science investigations is demonstrated in many different fields of interest to NASA that fall into several broad categories: Earth's environs, atmosphere, and aeronomy; space physics, magnetospheres, and the influences of the Sun; and the planetary systems and small bodies in our solar system. All of these research interests are supported by a robust instrument development program as well as software and data processing techniques. APL instruments range from the first hyperspectral imager in space to designs for sample-return technologies.
The study of energetic charged particles and magnetic fields in space was at the foundation of APL's research into space physics. Continuing research has led to seminal discoveries that have furthered our understanding of space physics and the near-Earth environment. That research has expanded into related fields of Earth's atmosphere and ionosphere and its response to solar inputs from ground and remote sensing observations. APL has led science investigations of each planet in our solar system, as well as their surfaces, atmospheres, interiors, and moons. Smaller members of the solar system—such as comets, asteroids, and meteoroids—provide unique insights into the origins of our solar system.