JPL’s technology development program produces dramatic space and Earth exploration breakthroughs. New technology makes spacecraft more capable, independent, and able to maneuver, solve problems, and decide which intriguing targets to explore, without having to phone home and wait for a reply.
Advanced space imaging techniques continue to evolve and reap benefits for those of us on Earth, while we search for life in the universe and on nearby planets, and even on icy Moons of our outer solar system.
Our robotics teams fast-forward humanity’s quest to study distant locales that may be icy, rocky, steep, and challenging. Caves on the moon and Mars are waiting to be explored.
While we dare mighty things, we often have to think small to produce miniaturized spacecraft. Swarms of them may someday explore together at various solar system destinations. CubeSats — tiny spacecraft composed of small cubes — are mini pioneers. A pair of them, Mars Cube One, or MarCO, successfully tagged along behind the Mars InSight spacecraft, listening to it and beaming back the first picture from InSight right after it landed on the Red Planet in 2018.
How Space Breakthroughs Benefit Earthlings
Many JPL-developed technologies are licensed for health, public safety, and communications purposes, right here on Earth.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, JPL engineers sprung into action and developed a low-cost ventilator prototype specifically to treat COVID patients. They developed the device in just 37 days and licensed it free to manufacturers for mass production during the pandemic.
When a devastating earthquake hit Nepal in 2015, the FINDER device, or Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response, was sent to help. Developed by JPL with the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, FINDER helped rescuers with its ability to detect a heartbeat through 30 feet of rubble.
And when you use your cellphone, think of JPL. This is where an imaging technology based on a Active Pixel Sensor technology (CMOS APS) and which uses 1/100th the power of CCDs, spawned the birth of consumer-level high-quality digital photography — like the kind inside our mobile devices.
JPL technology boosts space exploration and makes our lives better on our home planet.