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Dr. Michael Watkins, JPL Director and Dr. Robert O.Green, MDL Director Congratulations to all who have contributed to the success of MDL.
Dr. Michael Watkins, JPL Director and Dr. Robert O.Green, MDL Director.

MDL News & Trends

MDL Director's Letter

It is a privilege and responsibility to be selected as the third director of JPL's Microdevices Laboratory (MDL). For more than 15 years, my research has used advanced imaging spectrometer instrumentation enabled by unique optical components invented at MDL. These instruments have been used to test hypotheses and pursue investigations on Earth, the Moon, and Mars. Currently the most advanced MDL electron-beam fabricated diffraction grating and optical slit are being incorporated in the Mapping Imaging Spectrometer for Europa (MISE) to address key science questions related to habitability. Through this experience, as well as through my interactions with other investigators, my appreciation of MDL has come to be both broad and deep.

In our 2017 overall assessment, the clear evidence of MDL's success for JPL is revealed through the more than twenty MDL devices and components that have flown in space, enabling new science measurements and investigations for JPL and NASA. Ten more MDL devices are currently incorporated in space missions in development. In addition, a diverse set of new MDL devices are essential elements of other potential future NASA missions. A wide range of MDL devices have also been developed and tested in airborne instruments, sounding rocket investigations, and ground based systems to advance technologies for future space missions as well as achieve key technology breakthroughs for our nation.

Three key elements underpin MDL's extraordinary track record of success for JPL and NASA. First, there is an exceptional group of scientists and technologists who conceive and develop unique devices to enable new measurements and new capabilities for NASA. Second, there is a unique and diverse set of state-of-the-art micro and nano-fabrication tools located in one place to allow the development of original devices. The third element is the optimized facility and infrastructure that supports these tools and allows them to be used in novel ways and combinations to invent new devices and with the rigor required for use in space missions.

These elements have enabled the spectacular results highlighted in the subsequent pages of this report that in fact represent only a subset of all the advances being made at MDL. This report also highlights some of the high-risk, high-payoff technology concepts under development, which highlight MDL's forward looking philosophy in research and development. Over the next year, we will work to strengthen and advance MDL in each of these areas, insuring that MDL will continue to deliver breakthrough devices, components, and technologies for NASA and our nation through the 2025 and 2035 time frames.