APL engineers work on components for the DART spacecraft

Space Science and Engineering

From the Sun to Earth and beyond, Johns Hopkins APL is disrupting the future of space science and exploration

Since the dawn of the Space Age, Johns Hopkins APL has pushed the frontiers of space science, engineering, and exploration. We captured the first picture of Earth from space, invented navigation by satellite, and have dispatched spacecraft across the solar system from our Sun to Pluto and beyond, and we continue to shape the future by providing our nation with innovative and low-cost solutions to its space challenges.

We have designed and built more than 70 spacecraft and hundreds of specialized instruments. Combined, these spacecraft and instruments have visited every planet in our solar system and collected information that has expanded humankind's understanding of the universe.

Visit space.jhuapl.edu to learn more about APLs work in space science and engineering.

Related Projects

  • Space Weather

    Space Weather

    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.
    Learn more about Space Weather
  • Cislunar space (Credit: Johns Hopkins APL)

    Cislunar Science and Technology

    APL is making critical contributions to the development of cislunar infrastructure to ensure our nation’s security interests are protected, support development of a sustainable cislunar presence, and advance pioneering science.
    Learn more about Cislunar Science and Technology
  • EZIE satellites

    Electrojet Zeeman Imaging Explorer (EZIE)

    EZIE will determine the structure and evolution of Earth’s electrojets — electric currents flowing in Earth’s ionosphere that are central to the electrical circuit that couples the planet’s magnetosphere to its atmosphere.
    Learn more about Electrojet Zeeman Imaging Explorer (EZIE)
  • Johns Hopkins APL's 60-foot dish antenna illuminated at night

    Preventing Traffic Jams in Space

    Providing greater situational awareness to enhance safety and security for those who plan to operate in cislunar space and on the Moon.
    Learn more about Preventing Traffic Jams in Space
  • Deep Space Advanced Radar Concept (DARC)

    Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC) Technology Demonstration

    APL is leading solutions for the Space Force with the DARC technology demonstrator program.
    Learn more about Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC) Technology Demonstration
  • Artist's rendering of Dragonfly


    Dragonfly is a NASA New Frontiers mission that will send a rotorcraft lander to explore the prebiotic chemistry and habitability of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.
    Learn more about Dragonfly
  • Artist's rendering of IMAP spacecraft

    Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP)

    Set to launch in 2025, NASA’s Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) mission will help researchers better understand what happens at the boundary of the heliosphere, where the Sun’s protective magnetic field ends.
    Learn more about Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP)
  • DART crashing into an asteroid

    Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART)

    NASA’s first planetary defense mission—the APL-led Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART)—is the first mission to demonstrate what’s known as the kinetic impactor technique, which involves striking an asteroid to shift its orbit and deflect it from Earth.
    Learn more about Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART)
  • Artist's rendering of Europa Clipper

    Europa Clipper

    The search for life in the solar system beyond Earth gets a boost when NASA’s Europa Clipper mission launches in the mid-2020s to explore under the icy crust of Jupiter’s moon Europa.
    Learn more about Europa Clipper
  • Artist's rendering of New Horizons

    New Horizons

    Not even four years after NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft left Pluto and its moons in the rearview mirror—and revolutionized humankind’s view of these small, dynamic worlds on the edge of our solar system—the APL-built and -operated probe conducted a flyby of an ancient Kuiper Belt object, named Arrokoth, on New Year’s Day 2019.
    Learn more about New Horizons
  • Artist's rendering of Parker Solar Probe

    Parker Solar Probe

    NASA’s Parker Solar Probe—designed and built at APL—launched in August 2018 and has already traveled closer to the Sun than any spacecraft in history.
    Learn more about Parker Solar Probe
  • The twin CubeSat Assessment and Test, or CAT, satellites shown before launch at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

    CubeSat Signal Preprocessor Assessment and Test (CAT)

    APL has successfully established communications with two miniaturized satellites, or CubeSats, as part of a Lab-led flight demonstration known as CAT.
    Learn more about CubeSat Signal Preprocessor Assessment and Test (CAT)
  • An image collage shows the various technologies and people, both on the ground and in space, susceptible to space weather. A coronal mass ejection and solar flare emerging from the Sun on the left illustrate some of the more extreme causes of space weather. (Credit: Johns Hopkins APL)

    Space Weather Sensors

    Knowing the distribution and direction of energetic charged particles along a spacecraft’s trajectory is key to situational and satellite-health awareness, yet many missions resist flying particle sensors because the instruments can be heavy and expensive.
    Learn more about Space Weather Sensors
  • View from space of the Moon near Earth during a sunrise. (Credit: Shutterstock with NASA elements)

    Space Security and Defense

    APL provides expertise to the Space Security and Defense program, a joint Department of Defense/Office of the Director of National Intelligence organization focused on creating a more resilient and enduring national security space capability.
    Learn more about Space Security and Defense
  • SKA experiment sensor

    Spacebased Kill Assessment (SKA)

    APL developed and tested the sensors for the Missile Defense Agency’s SKA system, currently on orbit and executing planned test events.
    Learn more about Spacebased Kill Assessment (SKA)

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