The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a national research facility managed by Caltech in partnership with NASA specializing in space mission research and development. JPL receives federal funding to carry out robotic spacecraft missions on Earth and in space. JPL owns two National Historic Landmarks: the Space Flight Operations Facility and the Twenty-Five-Foot Space Simulator. Most importantly, JPL manages NASA’s Deep Space Network, a complex system of antennas that monitors interplanetary and deep-space missions.
JPL developed America’s first Earth-orbiting science satellite and created the first successful interplanetary spacecraft. JPL has launched missions to study all the planets within the solar system as well as various asteroids, comets, and Earth’s moon. The Optical Communications Laboratory has furnished several notable projects such as Interplanetary CubeSat, DSOC, and the LCRD.
Notable Divisions and Projects
Optical Communications Laboratory (OCL)
The Optical Communications Laboratory (OCL) is a multi-disciplinary lab hosted at JPL. Several notable facilities are housed at this laboratory including the Laser Communications Laboratory, the Laser Testing Laboratory, the Optical Detector and Receiver Laboratory, and the Optical Communication Telescope Laboratory (OCTL) at the Table Mountain Observatory.
OCL supports several projects at their facility. The LCRD is an ongoing FSO project supported by OCL. DSOC is an initiative to study deep space laser communications capabilities from Earth or a future Mars mission. The Table Mountain and Goldstone observatories are supported by OCL in their atmospheric and weather monitoring projects, especially atmospheric attenuation data processing and cloud coverage statistics. OCL also supports an CubeSat project that aims to test laser communications at interplanetary distances, such as Earth to Mars.
CubeSat is a small satellite used primarily for research that is built from off-the-shelf commercial components (i.e., nothing custom). A potential application of CubeSats is to build a mesh grid of them in LEO as a replacement for older GEO architecture. Currently, most CubeSats are used for commercial and amateur projects. JPL has supported and launched many initiatives in this field.
CubeRRT is an ongoing project launched on May 21, 2018, to demonstrate radio frequency interference (RFI) mitigation technologies. A CubeSat carrying RFI mitigation technology was launched from the ISS on July 13, 2018. It is currently housed in LEO orbit and is testing the technology as a mitigation against man-made RFI for more successful geoplanetary observations (soil moisture, wind speed, wind direction, water salinity, atmospheric water vapor etc.). 
IRIS is a CubeSat-compatible transponder developed by JPL as a low SWaP subsystem for deep space technology demonstrations. The device can interface with NASA’s Deep Space Network and is built to endure deep space missions, intense heat, and vacuum pressure. IRIS is reconfigurable in both hardware and software, allowing it to be adapted for additional frequency bands and applications outside its intended network. 
RainCube, short for Radar in a CubeSat, is a CubeSat designed to observe precipitation activity using RF technology. Its purpose is to study rainfall, validate new Ka-band technology, and demonstrate the feasibility of using CubeSat as a support platform for radar. RainCube is designed to last for three years. It was delivered to the ISS on May 21, 2018 and was deployed into orbit on June 25, 2018. 
OPALS is an FSO satellite launched on April 18, 2014. Its purpose was to study the possibility of laser technologies replacing traditional RF for satellite uplink and downlink. OPALS operated at 1550nm and communicated primarily with JPL’s OCTL at Table Mountain. OPALS beamed a 175Mb message that said “Hello, World!” to the Earth on June 5, 2014, which was received successfully at OCTL. The mission concluded on July 17, 2014.