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JPL (the Jet Propulsion Laboratory) is a federally funded research and development center in Pasadena, managed for NASA by Caltech. JPL designs and operates robotic spacecraft, implementing programs in planetary exploration, Earth science, space-based astronomy and technology development.

Caltech established JPL in the 1930s. In the decades that followed, JPL created America's first satellite (Explorer 1), sent the first robotic craft to the Moon, and then launched a series of craft to all of the planets, save Pluto. Today, JPL continues to have three main exploration programs: Robotic missions to the planets and other bodies in the solar system; earth-orbiting satellites, some of which monitor environmental conditions on earth and some of which peer out into deep space; and NASA's Deep Space Network, a set of antenna complexes around the world used to communicate with distant space probes. As of 2017, JPL has 19 spacecraft and 15 major instruments conducting active missions - ranging from the Curiosity rover on Mars and Cassini orbiting Saturn, to the Dawn spacecraft heading to the dwarf planet Ceres and the Jason 3 satellite, making detailed measurements of sea-level on Earth to gain insight into ocean circulation and climate change.


Updated 2/20/17
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