Searching for Life across the Universe

Since 1992, when scientists confirmed the first planet in another solar system, or exoplanet, thousands more have been discovered – from small, rocky Earth-like planets to colossal Hot Jupiters whose atmospheres can get hot enough to melt iron. Through missions such as Cassini, New Horizons and Venus Express, APL researchers have studied the evolution of volatile and carbon-based molecules on numerous solar system bodies to apply to studies of rocky exoplanets. They’re using NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes to identify water vapor and clouds on Hot Jupiters. They’re providing 1D and 3D models to answer the most pressing questions about the dynamics and evolution of planetary atmospheres. And they’re helping to plan the next generation of space-based telescopes to search for atmosphere-covered rocky planets and, ultimately, signs of life.


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.


Scientists and engineers at APL have designed, built and operated more than 300 novel space instruments and methods to conduct cutting-edge research and make groundbreaking discoveries. Click below to learn about some of these instruments and their role in shaping our understanding of space and the solar system.


Go inside APL’s space missions and research, and check out the latest news, features and discoveries from the teams that are probing mysteries from the Sun to the edge of the solar system and beyond.