JPL’s Achievements in the 21st century

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a unique research laboratory
situated in the California Institute of Technology


NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory or JPL is a unique research laboratory
situated in the California Institute of Technology. Its main aim is to carry out robotic space and Earth science missions. JPL is managed for NASA by
Caltech. JPL; A Federally funded center is aiming to carry out developments in the area of research.
JPL has also helped America in opening the space age by the development
of America’s first Earth-orbiting science satellite. Its main aim is to be
involved in many other interplanetary missions by creating first interpl-anetary spacecraft and in sending various robotic missions in order to
study all the planets of the solar system as well as comets, asteroids and
Earth’s moon.
In addition to all these missions, JPL has also developed and managed
NASA’s spacecraft Network, which is a worldwide system of Antennas communicating with interplanetary spacecraft. The developing technology
of JPL’s new missions are being applied on Earth to benefit our daily lives.


Some of the major missions done by JPL in 2018 are enlisted as follow:

  • ECOSTRESS (The ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Experiment on Space Station.
  • GRACE-FO (The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On
  • InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigation, Geodesy and Heat Transport)
  • Mar-CO (Mars Cube One)
  • CAL (Cold Atom Laboratory)
  • TEMPEST-D (Temporal Experiments for Storms and Tropical Systems Demonstration)



The ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station aims in monitoring one of the most basic processes in living plants, the water loss through the small pores in leaves. The process of removal of water in humans is known as Sweating. The same process in plants is known as Transpiration. The water evaporating from the soil around plants also affects the water usage of plants, ECOSTRESS measures the combined evaporation and transpiration, known as EVAPOTRANSPIRATION (ET).

ECOSTRESS mainly addresses three questions:

  • How does the terrestrial biosphere respond to changes in the availability of water?
  • How the global carbon cycle is impacted by changes in diurnal vegetation water stress?
  • Can advanced monitoring of agricultural water reduce agricultural vulnerability? The science objective has been identified to address these questions:
  • By identifying the water usage and water stress in key climate-sensitive biomes as in tropical forests and boreal forests.
  • By detecting the location, various predictive factors, and timing that cause a decline in water uptake by leading to a cessation in the diurnal cycle.
  • By measuring the consumption of water at the spatiotemporal scale that can improve drought estimation accuracy.



  • The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow On (GRACE-FO) is a collaboration between NASA and the German Research Center of Geoscience (GFZ). This mission focuses on measuring the variations in gravity over the Earth’s surface thus produces a new map of the gravity field every 30 days.
  • GRACE-FO shows that the gravity of planets not only changes from one location to another but also changes from one period to another.
  • LAUNCH DATE: May 22, 2018. This mission is the extension of actual GRACE mission which was started, that began orbiting around Earth on March 17, 2002.
Instrument and Global Positioning System Receivers.

InSight (Mars Rover/Lander):

About the Mission

Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat
Transport; is a Mars lander project designed to give the Hot and Red planet its first checkup since it formed 4 billion years ago. It is the first outer space robotic apparatus that mainly focuses on the exploration of “inner space” of Mars, its mantle, crust, and core.
Insight also measures its tectonic activity and meteorite impacts on Mars these days. The measurement is done by using the sharp cutting edgy instruments that indulge deep beneath the surface and imprints the processes that are formed by the planets. It is done by measuring the planet’s vital signs: it’s “pulse” (seismology), “temperature” (heat flow), and “reflexes” (precision taking).

LAUNCH DATE: March 29, 2018.
Insight mission badge.



Mars Cube One. CubeSat; an interplanetary mission was designed to monitor Insight for a short period around the period of Red Planet’s landing if the MarCO makes pair to Mars. This mission is quite different from
InSight. The MARCO-RED PLANET pair will carry their own communi-cations and navigation experiments as they fly independently to the
Red Planet. This process lies on the twin communications-relay Cube-Sats, built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Many of such have been launched into Earth Orbit by using extra payload mass available.

MARCO, A Mission To Mars.


Cold Atom Laboratory. It makes the use of the space station’s unique microgravity environment in order to observe the quantum phenomenon that is not detectable by Earth otherwise. The laboratory was installed successfully and now serving as an experiment in the use of laser-cooled atoms for future quantum sensors.

MarCO- Mission badge

TEMPEST-DTemporal Experiment for Storms and Tropical Systems Demonstration.


It was launched in Wallops Island, Virginia. TEMPEST-D is such a unique technology mission that allows millimeter wave radiometer to be subjected
to a low cost. This mission was carried out in collaboration with JPL and
BCT. This mission provides the first ever temporal observations of clouds
and precipitation processes on a global scale.

Tempest-D; Mission to Earth.