Jet Propulsion Laboratory

September 1, 2018
By George I. Seffers
The Deep Space Optical Communications system will be launched into space in 2022 on the Psyche spacecraft, which will explore a massive metallic asteroid. The research program may eventually contribute to a laser communications infrastructure around the red planet. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State University/Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin

In the coming months, researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory expect to take a series of small steps that will ultimately result in a giant leap in laser-enabled Mars telecommunication capabilities. Their technological progress will contribute to a telecommunications infrastructure around the planet that will support both human and robotic expeditions.

Mars is expected to be a veritable hotbed of activity in the relatively near future. NASA’s InSight lander is scheduled to touch down in November to study the planet’s deep interior using seismology and various sensors. The planet also is drawing commercial interest. SpaceX plans to land its Red Dragon spacecraft in 2020.

August 31, 2017
By Kimberly Underwood
The Institutional Computing Environment contract with ManTech allows JPL to focus on its space-related missions.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), responsible for space robotics and Earth science, among other planetary things, will lean on cloud-based computer services to keep its data secure but accessible to its scientists.  

JPL hopes to save costs in its cyber-related operations under its new Institutional Computing Environment (ICE) services contract with ManTech International Corporation. 

Located in Pasadena, California, JPL is a federally funded research and development center managed by the California Institute of Technology (known as Caltech). The NASA laboratory outsources all of its information technology (IT) needs. 

September 3, 2015
By George I. Seffers
Helicopters drop water and fire retardant on a fire near the Mexican border. AUDREY will provide tailored information to firefighters, whether in the air or on the ground.

Researchers are linking together the power of the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and cloud computing to create a personal assistant to provide total situational awareness to first responders. The advanced program is wise enough to provide only the information necessary for each user, smart enough to ask questions and versatile enough for virtually anyone to use, including firefighters, warfighters, factory workers and home owners.

If all goes well, the system is set to begin prototype testing within the next 16 months, and an initial capability could be fielded soon.

January 19, 2011
By George Seffers

General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies received a $40.7 million contract from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to build two additional 34-meter (112-foot wide) beam waveguide antennas as part of NASA's modernization and transformation plan to continue scientific studies of the Earth as well as explore distant bodies in the solar system. The new antennas will be located at the Deep Space Network facility in Canberra, Australia. Originally designed by JPL and built by General Dynamics, the antennas enable the Deep Space Network to communicate with existing flight missions such as the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spitzer Space telescope, Saturn explorer Cassini, as well as support future NASA space missions.