Projects and Missions

Below is a sampling of APL’s critical contributions to critical challenges. Projects and missions are displayed in alphabetical order. 

Filter projects and missions by area of impact, mission area, or both.

ACE Satellite orbiting the sun


A heliophysics observatory, the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) provides early warning of geomagnetic storms that can overload power grids, disrupt communications on Earth, and present a hazard to astronauts.
Learn more about ACE
Robotics researchers Craig Knuth and Adam Polevoy test machine learning algorithms for estimating traversable regions in complex environments. Such algorithms are necessary to enable robotic systems to autonomously traverse complex terrain.

Agile and Intelligent Robots

Developing novel controls for robotic systems operating safely in complex environments.
Learn more about Agile and Intelligent Robots

AlphaDogfight Trials

APL served as a core member of the Air Combat Evolution program team created by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for the 2020 AlphaDogfight Trials, a showdown between eight AI research teams from across the United States.
Learn more about AlphaDogfight Trials
APL is developing environmental risk assessment tools that can be readily integrated into the Nett Warrior combat situational awareness platform. (U.S. Army)

Army Environmental Health Research

APL and the U.S. Army Center for Environmental Health Research are developing capabilities to detect, assess, and prevent effects from exposure to toxic materials—focusing especially on ways to prevent acute and chronic health effects through new biological technologies.
Learn more about Army Environmental Health Research
ISC researchers Elizabeth Reilly and Jason Lee apply mathematical models to understand how different shocks impact food security.

Artificial Intelligence for Climate Action

Leveraging the power of artificial intelligence and mathematics to spur innovation and novel solutions to challenges at the intersection of climate change and national security.
Learn more about Artificial Intelligence for Climate Action
Balloon program engineers working outside

Balloon Programs

APL balloon missions and instruments observe planetary targets and the interstellar medium, and conduct other space science investigations.
Learn more about Balloon Programs
Abstract representation of data analysis (Credit: Bigstock)

Better Options for Data Analytics

The open-architecture tool we developed for U.S. Special Operations Command’s Science and Technology Directorate limits dependence on a single vendor and enables the command to evaluate data analysis and visualization tools against defined data and interfaces.
Learn more about Better Options for Data Analytics
Johns Hopkins APL's Rotating Drum System

Biological Threat Analysis

APL is developing innovative ways to evaluate biological threats in a natural environment.
Learn more about Biological Threat Analysis
Image of Boundary Layer Transition (BOLT) flight hardware

Boundary Layer Transition (BOLT)

Hypersonic vehicles move fast—faster than five times the speed of sound, or Mach 5. Being able to pinpoint whether the air is laminar (moving in a smooth, straight line) or has transitioned to turbulent (swirling in eddies, with up to eight times the heat transfer) is critical for determining what materials to use when designing hypersonic aircraft and missiles.
Learn more about Boundary Layer Transition (BOLT)
Climate Security

Climate Security

Climate change is reshaping nearly every aspect of life on our planet, with significant implications for national security. APL is bringing all of its core competencies to bear on this critical challenge area, exploring strategic opportunities to make the greatest impact on climate change.
Learn more about Climate Security
APL analyses have identified, quantified, and prioritized opportunities to address time-critical targets across multiple domains.

Countering Anti-Access, Area-Denial Threats

APL is an established, critical partner of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Strategic Capabilities Office, which provides lower-cost, strategic alternatives for shaping and countering emerging threats.
Learn more about Countering Anti-Access, Area-Denial Threats
Water treatment facility

Cyber Defense for Industrial Control Systems

APL is leading the development of the first-ever comprehensive, integrated, and automated solution for industrial control system cybersecurity.
Learn more about Cyber Defense for Industrial Control Systems
DARC Satellite

DARC Demonstration

The APL designed, developed, and tested Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC) helped solve the challenge of locating and tracking active satellites in and on the way to geosynchronous orbit, more than 22,000 miles above Earth.
Learn more about DARC Demonstration
DART impact


The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) was NASA’s first planetary defense test mission.
Learn more about DART
USS Ronald Reagan (Credit: US Navy / Jason Tarleton)

Deployed with the Fleet

In 2017, APL staff members deployed on U.S. Navy Commander, Task Force 70 (CTF-70) patrols aboard the carrier USS Ronald Reagan—an assignment that allowed our engineers to experience the fleet’s challenges and operational workflows, and gather important data to feed future analyses and technology demonstrations in operationally relevant environments.
Learn more about Deployed with the Fleet