Monitoring the Health of the Earth

In addition to working with data from established satellite missions, APL researchers design and develop new instruments that fly on aircraft and in space to demonstrate new, science-driven capabilities. Our scientists characterize and track the motion of clouds, enabling crucial research that ranges from predicting severe weather to the analysis of the radiative impacts of clouds on climate. They use high-resolution measurements of vegetation fluorescence to monitor plant health remotely, providing critical information about sources of carbon and places where it’s absorbed. Our scientists develop capabilities for broadband radiometry to measure the Earth’s energy budget and hyperspectral imagery to reveal pollution emissions and evolution. And they track critical changes in Arctic sea ice, retrieve data on sea surface height and surface winds, and create hyperspectral methods to track the health of the marine ecosystem.


APL has designed, built and operated more than 70 innovative spacecraft over its six decades of spaceflight experience. Click below to learn about some of the missions that made revolutionary discoveries, and spacecraft that will push the boundaries of exploration and investigate outstanding scientific mysteries.