The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is one of the world's leading science and engineering research institutions with a proven strategy of attracting top-caliber scientists and scholars and providing an environment in which they can thrive. Caltech brings intellectual depth to new science topics in fields such as planetary science, radar studies of the solid earth, gravitation waves, larges structures in space, atmospheric chemistry and the cosmic microwave background.
Caltech faculty and alumni include 31 Nobel Prize recipients, 53 National Medals of Science and 12 National Medals of Technology. More than 100 faculty have been elected members of the National Academies.
From its inception among faculty and graduate students at Caltech in the 1930s, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has played an unparalleled role in America's exploration of space. In partnership with the U.S. Government, JPL took America into space for the first time with Explorer 1, and has led exploration of the solar system with missions to all of the planets from Mercury to Neptune.
JPL is a division of Caltech, but is also a federally funded research and development center. JPL is the only NASA Center that is managed by a university.
Over the decades, this collaboration between Government and academia has been responsible for a remarkable record of achievements in planetary exploration, earth science, spaceborne astronomy, and technology development. Today, JPL is responsible for 20 spacecraft and nine instruments conducting active missions to investigate topics ranging from ice loss at the earth's poles to potential niches for life in the solar system. The laboratory enjoys a reputation for its expertise as manager of NASA's Deep Space Network supporting communications with all spacecraft beyond the earth's orbit.
In its relationship with Caltech and JPL, NASA is able to draw on the intellectual resources of a world-class research university with strong focuses in space and earth science, astronomy, astrophysics and aerospace engineering. To a far greater degree than in most instances of Federal laboratory management, JPL is an integral part of Caltech's research activities and strongly reflects the core interests of its academic community.
Caltech has a long and distinguished record in the management of large, complex projects. The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory managed by Caltech and MIT is one of the largest commitments of research facility construction funds by the National Science Foundation. Caltech also took the lead in the construction of the 10-meter Keck Observatory, the largest optical telescope in the world, and with the University of California is currently leading an international consortium planning for the Thirty Meter Telescope. Caltech is also affiliated with the Palomar Observatory, Submillimeter Telescope in Chile and the Huntington Botanical Gardens.