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2020/2021 Funding Opportunities for KISS-Related Science and Engineering Topics

There are three 2020/2021 Caltech funding opportunities open in the area of space science and engineering – two on Campus and one at JPL. They are described below. 

Opportunity #1: Private donors – 10-month turnaround projects, 2-3 projects, total of all projects not to exceed $285k

Due: 14 February 2020

Donors supporting space science and engineering at Caltech have made it possible to solicit opportunities through the Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS) to fund 2-3 grants totaling approximately $285k (direct cost) to carry out brief technical development efforts of 10 months or less that meet the following criteria:

       1. funding is designated for efforts on Campus with Campus personnel that support innovative approaches for space exploration

       2. topic area must be related to a KISS study, and

       3. projects must be "shovel-ready" and are expected to show concrete results in approximately 9 months.

Of the funding above, it is expected that one proposal for $85k focused on an exoplanet or a search for life topic will be awarded.

Proposals submitted in response to this solicitation must have a Caltech Campus Principal Investigator (PI) who is a member of the faculty. Special consideration will be given to proposals which support the work of graduate students and postdocs. 

The period of performance for this funding is March 15, 2020 – January 15, 2020.

Proposals can be in any format, but are required to provide the information outlined below and are limited to one page in length.

Top of Page: 

Program Description and Rationale (1-page limit)

  • Statement of the proposal goal
  • Description of how the proposal will impact the future of space and/or solar system science or engineering
  • Expected outcome within 9 months
  • List of personnel involved (may include individuals from JPL or other institutions who are funded separately).

Proposals must be submitted to [email protected] by 14 February 2020.

Questions may be directed to Michele Judd at [email protected].


Opportunity #2: KISS Technical Development Follow-On Funding – one 2-year project will be funded for a total of $200k (direct cost)

Letter of Intent due date: 14 February 2020 (noon) 

Proposal due date: 01 April 2020 (noon)

The Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS) is soliciting follow-on technical development proposals from Caltech Campus faculty who have been participants in previous KISS Study Programs. 

The goal of the Keck Institute is to develop new space science and engineering ideas and concepts. KISS will provide seed funding for one selected proposal to advance technical development in promising areas identified by previous KISS study programs.  Technical development work can include, but is not limited to: 

  • Technology development
  • Development of prototypes
  • Laboratory work
  • Modeling
  • Simulations and computation, and
  • Observations and data analysis. 

Please see for details. 

Questions may be directed to Michele Judd at [email protected]. 

Opportunity #3: FY21 JPL Research and Technology Development (R&TD) Funding – up to 2-year projects, various funding levels

Submission Concept Paper due by JPL colleague: 19 February 2020 (4PM)

JPL has a Research and Technology Development (R&TD) program that is a source of JPL-internal research funds. They are currently accepting FY21 R&TD Topic Area Concept Papers and they are due on 19 February 2020 at 4 PM.

These one-page concept papers must be submitted by a fulltime JPL researcher, and they are encouraged to have Campus co-investigators.

Within this call for Topic Area Concepts is a specific callout for KISS follow-on projects:

This year one large research activity will be awarded. This award will be for a period of up to two (2) years at an amount not to exceed $500K/yr. A particular emphasis will be on research that is a result of follow-on recommendations to previous KISS studies.  

These concept papers should be on highly innovative ideas that will make a significant technology breakthrough or science discovery.

If there are faculty members who have an interest in proposing a KISS-related (see topic with their JPL counterparts, they should immediately contact their JPL colleagues to explore the possibility of collaborating on a proposal.

Questions may be directed to your JPL colleague.