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.