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Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory

The World's Most Innovative Companies 2018

When NASA launches its Parker Solar Probe the summer of 2018--a spacecraft that will fly closer to the sun than any before--it will need to be able to withstand temperatures up to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,377 degrees Celsius). Yet the probe’s payload will remain at close to room temperature. How? A team from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and Whiting School of Engineering designed and built a disk-shaped heat shield just 4 inches thick composed of a carbon graphite sheet mounted on carbon foam blocks. The 8-foot wide shield will allow the probe’s delicate scientific instruments to gather new information about the inner workings of stars, and the way space weather impacts life on Earth. Founded in 1942 to assist with World War II efforts, the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory's core mission is to use innovative science and tech to enhance national security.

2018: Space
headquarters: Laurel, MD
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