Two men working with technology


APL solves complex research, engineering, and analytical problems that present critical challenges to our nation. As the nation’s largest university affiliated research center, we provide U.S. government agencies with deep expertise in specialized fields to support national priorities and technology development programs. We also serve as independent trusted technical agents to the government, providing continuity for highly complex, multigenerational technology development systems.

As a university affiliated research center (UARC), we maintain robust engineering and research and development expertise in eight core competencies to meet the needs of our government sponsors. Our core competencies are:

  • Strategic systems test and evaluation
  • Submarine security and survivability
  • Space science and engineering
  • Combat systems and guided missiles
  • Air and missile defense and power projection
  • Information technology (C4ISR/IO)
  • Simulation, modeling, and operations analysis
  • Mission-related research, development, test, and evaluation
Critical Contributions to Critical Challenges

Our scientists, engineers, and analysts serve as trusted advisors and technical experts to the government, ensuring the reliability of complex technologies that safeguard our nation’s security and advance the frontiers of space. We also maintain independent research and development programs that pioneer and explore emerging technologies and concepts to address future national priorities.

Learn more about how APL is delivering critical contributions critical challenges.

The complex challenges of today’s world demand new technologies that can keep us safer and take us farther, and APL’s engineers and scientists are meeting that demand head-on. From the unforgiving, harsh environment of outer space to the evolving new domain of mixed reality, APL is pioneering solutions in both the real and digital worlds to tackle critical national challenges.

To meet these challenges and maintain the nation’s defensive edge, APL calls upon its deep expertise in a number of technical domains, both cutting-edge and foundational, provided by staff members across the Lab.

  • Brain (Credit: Bigstock)


  • Peter Thielen touches a floating piece of ice


  • Scientist working on a computer with lab in background

    Planetary Defense

    With an asteroid collision always possible, APL is leveraging its capabilities and expertise to build the tools and collect the knowledge to defend Earth.

  • APL, which manages and is building NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), led the installation of NEXT-C onto the spacecraft on Nov. 10, with team members from Aerojet Rocketdyne on hand to support the process.  Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman

    Propulsion Technologies

  • electronics

    Quantum Computing and Sensing

    Immense power can reside in very small electrical signals. Scientists at APL are working to unlock the vast potential of even smaller signals — those found in the quantum realm.

  • Radar screen (Credit: Bigstock)

    Radar Systems

  • A researcher works in an electronics design and fabrication facility

    Rapid Prototyping

  • Measuring data

    Remote Sensing

  • The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) sails in the Arabian Gulf

    Ship Defense

  • This animation explains how the APL team applied two theoretical tools of quantum information to extremely sensitive signal detection tasks.

    Signal Processing

  • Cerberus Project Manager Travis Heslop, center, and Derrick Treichler, a Cerberus technical lead, review designs and updates for the latest prototype. APL’s Cerberus project team laid out a three-year plan to design, build, field and iterate an advanced prototype. APL demonstrated an initial working version in just twelve months.  Credit: Johns Hopkins APL

    Software Development and Electronics

  • Illustration of sonar array

    Sonar Technologies

  • Data visualization

    Space Technology

    Providing the expertise, software, and visualization tools to ensure a mission is successful, from design and conceptualization to data extraction and analysis.

  • Space Weather

    Space Weather and Heliophysics

    APL is a leader in space weather science, observations, and modeling — particularly in understanding the drivers of solar activity, the role Earth’s magnetosphere plays in protecting us, and the response of the upper atmosphere to solar variability.

  • Representatives from government and private industry came together to identify threats to key biological capabilities.

    Tabletop Exercises