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.

IMAP Spacecraft rendering


NASA’s Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) mission, which APL is building in partnership with Principal Investigator David McComas of Princeton University, will explore our solar neighborhood, called the heliosphere — decoding the messages in particles from the Sun and beyond our cosmic shield.
Learn more about IMAP
Cybersecurity (Credit: Bigstock)

Integrated Adaptive Cyber Defense (IACD)

APL conceptualized, prototyped, and published a framework enabling the integration and automation of diverse cybersecurity solutions to dramatically increase the speed and scale of cyber defense.
Learn more about Integrated Adaptive Cyber Defense (IACD)
Sonar screen (Credit: Bigstock)

Integrated Undersea Surveillance Systems

We are solving critical challenges for the Navy’s undersea surveillance community, making contributions such as active and passive sonar processing algorithms for inclusion in the Advanced Surveillance Build tactical sonar modernization program.
Learn more about Integrated Undersea Surveillance Systems
Erik Johnson, a machine learning researcher at Johns Hopkins APL, demonstrating how agents are evaluated for lifelong learning on ISC-developed L2Explorer.

Lifelong Learning Machines

Enabling intelligent systems that continuously adapt to changing conditions and missions in the real world.
Learn more about Lifelong Learning Machines
Astronauts on the lunar surface

Lunar Surface Innovation Initiative

APL holds a key leadership role in NASA’s Lunar Surface Innovation Initiative (LSII), which aims to spur the development and deployment of technologies enabling humans to live and work on the Moon.
Learn more about Lunar Surface Innovation Initiative
Lunar Swirls

Lunar Vertex

Lunar Vertex will be the first mission to carry out a comprehensive study of lunar magnetic anomaly and the associated swirl and mini-magnetosphere.
Learn more about Lunar Vertex
Brain (Credit: Bigstock)

Mapping the Brain for Machine Learning

APL leads several test and evaluation efforts for the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity’s Machine Intelligence from Cortical Networks (MICrONs) project, launched to develop state-of-the-art machine-learning capabilities by modeling how the brain processes information.
Learn more about Mapping the Brain for Machine Learning
MESSENGER Spacecraft


MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) was the first mission to orbit Mercury, shedding unprecedented light on the origins and evolution of the innermost planet.
Learn more about MESSENGER
Special Operations Forces in an Arctic environment (Credit: U.S. Navy)

Mobile Communications

Special Operations Forces (SOF) continue to rely on APL expertise to understand the communications technology landscape, inform requirements development, and identify options for mobile communications capabilities across a variety of operational scenarios.
Learn more about Mobile Communications
Planes in flight (Credit: U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joseph E. Montemarano)

Modeling Warfighter Decision-Making

Working with technical consultants and the Navy fighter aircraft community, we created a pilot-behavior model for air-to-air combat.
Learn more about Modeling Warfighter Decision-Making
Visualization of Earth with networks in Low Earth Orbit (Credit: Bigstock)

National Security Space Missions and Hardware

APL is proud to conceptualize and implement highly classified and critically important spaceflight missions to enable our nation’s security.
Learn more about National Security Space Missions and Hardware
NEAR Spacecraft in front of asteroid


The first launch in NASA’s Discovery program, the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) was the first mission to orbit and land on an asteroid.
Learn more about NEAR
Optical physicist Michael Fitch models a prototype high-density diffuse optical imaging system, described in JJ Wathen et al. 2021.

Neural Interfaces

Directly interfacing with the nervous system to connect humans with intelligent systems.
Learn more about Neural Interfaces
Raphael Norman-Tenazas, neuro-AI researcher, tests a robot navigation strategy inspired by the fruit fly connectome.

Neuroscience-Inspired Artificial Intelligence

Developing next-generation learning algorithms that draw inspiration from biological nervous systems to revolutionize intelligent systems.
Learn more about Neuroscience-Inspired Artificial Intelligence
Artist's rendering of New Horizons

New Horizons

New Horizons is the first mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, the distant region of planetary building blocks that hold keys to our solar system’s formation.
Learn more about New Horizons