Grow our capabilities to enable the future of scientific exploration from space
Strategic Imperative 3: Transformative Science and Technology
Pursue leading-edge science questions and boldly drive innovation and technology into flight missions
JPL pursues scientific discoveries that benefit humanity. We seek to understand how Earth works as a system and how it is changing. We explore the many mysteries of our vast universe and how our own solar system formed and is evolving. We search for evidence of life elsewhere, past, or present. These fundamental questions drive our existence and enable our future. To pursue them, we must invent or leverage new technologies that enable ever more daring flight missions and scientific analyses. We must imagine a future of science from space that others can’t yet see. With our partners across the scientific community at Caltech and around the world, the nation depends on us to drive the frontiers of science and technology for the benefit of humanity.
We Envision a World in Which:
JPL and campus researchers enable and drive transformational science from space, and JPL is the academic community’s partner of choice across Earth, astrophysics, and planetary science disciplines.
We have a Lab-wide coordinated technology development and infusion program and a defined strategic investment plan that is science-driven and strategically aligned.
We have an approach to small-scale flight demonstration and innovation that is forward leaning in speed, risk tolerance, and cost.
By 2026, We Will:
Transformational Science Challenges
Articulate Lab-wide transformational science challenges to drive internal investments and research.
Earth- and Space-science Communities
Expand JPL’s role as a convenor, host, and promoter of the Earth- and space-science communities aligned with NASA’s missions.
Technology Infusion Program
Develop a technology infusion program that enables and leverages a set of forward-leaning technologies, developed internally or externally, that are science driven, strategically aligned, and coordinated Lab-wide.
Create an innovation hub with Caltech to validate flight capabilities with greater risk tolerance to mature and have them ready them for infusion into JPL missions.
Strategic Imperative 4: Lab-wide Planning and Prioritization
Forecast and prioritize new work across JPL to align with our capabilities and goals
Our success depends on core capabilities that keep us at the leading edge across our programmatic areas of work. However, lack of integrated understanding of our current and upcoming commitments put pressure on our people, facilities, and systems and strains our pursuit of new work. Resource realities require us to make decisions that assure successful execution of current work, and yet we must always look to the future toward transformational science, next-generation capabilities, and the new missions that will come our way.
Without a JPL-wide forum and a systematic approach to making decisions, we are inclined to overcommit, and our ability to deliver on those commitments is compromised. By embracing integrated planning with new tools, we can create more accurate resource projections (including funding, people, and infrastructure) that will enhance our ability to make smarter decisions about our future work so that we may maintain an exciting and balanced portfolio for years to come.
We Envision a World in Which:
We understand and regularly assess our current and future capacity to enable smart decisions on future commitments and the overall health of the Lab.
We align JPL core capabilities with NASA and national priorities to enable future opportunities.
We undertake projects that match the Lab’s strategic capabilities and fit within the infrastructure
Our programmatic directorates work together in portfolio planning and decision-making to maximize benefit across our diverse set of impactful activities.
We make robust make-buy decisions related to workforce, systems, subsystems, and components to focus our efforts on what we do uniquely well.
By 2026 We Will:
Future Work Board
Establish a Future Work Board to enable balanced, integrated decision-making about new mission activities that drive partnerships and make-buy decisions.
Develop an integrated approach and tools for capacity management that will align resources and infrastructure with Lab priorities, respond to changes as needed, and better leverage partnerships to enable surge capacity and flexibility.
Institutional Quarterly Review
Create an Institutional Quarterly Review of the health of JPL across multiple dimensions to inform future planning and risk management.