Instruments & Sensors

Role in Scientific Discovery

Instruments and Sensors

Advancements in this area enable more precise measurements, higher resolution images, and surface exploration and sampling.


Benefit to JPL Mission

Instruments and sensors with higher sensitivity, greater robustness, and reduced overall mass and power consumption enable more complex science missions and planetary missions.



Instrumentation that can capture weak signals over great distances presents a design challenge. Planetary missions rely on sensing technology for landing, exploring, and sampling, but technology size and weight is a significant constraint.



  • Direct Detectors and Optics: semiconductor-based detectors, superconductor-based detectors, adaptive optics
  • Coherent Detectors and Arrays: integrated receiver architectures, receiver arrays
  • Active Sensor Systems: low-mass, high-efficiency transmit/receive modules, solid-state power amplifiers, digital electronics, unique lasers
  • In Situ and Life Detection Sensors: organic analysis instrumentation, miniaturized microscopy, miniature atomic quantum sensors


Read more about this topic in JPL's 2019 Strategic Technologies document.