Developing the means to prevent an asteroid collision

While only a fraction of the asteroids near Earth could potentially pose a threat, asteroid impacts have happened many times in Earth’s long history. APL is joining NASA and others to ensure we have the capabilities to defend Earth should the hazard arise again. APL has a long history of studying asteroids. Our engineers and scientists built NASA’s first asteroid reconnaissance spacecraft, NEAR Shoemaker, which was the first mission to orbit and land on an asteroid.

APL is actively involved in NASA’s OSIRIS-REx asteroid-sampling mission and building an instrument for NASA’s Psyche mission to explore a potentially metal-rich asteroid. Finally, APL leads the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), NASA’s first-of-its-kind planetary defense mission, which will crash a spacecraft into an asteroid to demonstrate whether we can prevent a cataclysmic collision by deflecting a large and potentially dangerous object.


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.