Understand how our Solar System formed and how it is evolving

From the outset, JPL has been the global leader in exploration of the solar system, and we will continue the quest to deepen our understanding of our cosmic neighborhood. Future missions may target the primitive celestial bodies that contain the building blocks of the solar system, the giant planets and their moons whose formation and evolution disclose essential planetary processes, or potentially hazardous Earth-crossing objects such as comets and asteroids.


The Mars Exploration Directorate manages the activities and projects that are assigned to JPL by NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. The Program applies a successive and integrated mission approach to undertake detailed scientific explorations of Mars using orbital remote sensing and robotic landers. It has had a continuous presence of both landers/rovers and orbiters since the early 2000s.

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The Solar System Exploration Directorate studies the Solar System by investigating the formation and evolution of Solar System bodies, searching for evidence of life on the ocean moons of Saturn and Jupiter, and undertaking detailed analyses of Solar System environments in preparation for possible future human spaceflight missions.

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The Astronomy and Physics Directorate studies the Universe and our place in it by investigating the formation and evolution of stars, galaxies, and the Universe, and studying the diversity of planets outside of our Solar System (exoplanets) with the ultimate goal of finding an exoplanet with evidence of life.

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The Interplanetary Network Directorate (IND) is JPL’s programmatic focal point for deep space communications, navigation, and mission operations, and performs world-class Solar System science and astrophysics. The IND is responsible for the design, development, operation, and services for three of NASA’s key mission-enabling systems: the Deep Space Network (DSN), the Advanced Multi-Mission Operations System (AMMOS), and the Planetary Data System (PDS) support nodes.

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