Posted tagged ‘JPL’

JPL Tour

November 19, 2015

EPSON MFP image

On Tuesday, We attended a tour of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Labs in Pasadena. This was a private tour that was arranged by our son Mike who works there. We had a group of about 20 people, most of whom were members of Mike’s 9SOPS unit at Vandenberg AFB.

The tour started at a small theater to view a video about JPL. The lab was started by a couple of grad students at Caltech who were doing research on rocket motors. Here’s the wiki article. Around the edge of the room were several models of JPL space craft including a 1/2 size model of the two spacecrafts Voyager which were  launched in 1977. Voyager 1 and 2 continue to operate today returning data from interstellar space.

 


From the auditorium, we headed to a small museum with more examples of JPL’s projects including Mars Exploration Rover Mission and other space craft for exploring the surface of Mars. We were given ample time to look at all of the models and take pictures. But we couldn’t stay all afternoon because there was another group scheduled right behind us.


 After we were done with the museum we hiked up to the building where the control center lives. They have a glassed in balcony where visitors can watch the business of managing spacecraft millions of miles from planet Earth. The center is manned 24/7/365. Here are a couple of pictures. By this point in the tour my knees were talking back to me.


The final stop in the tour was another glassed in balcony for visitors of one of the large clean room assembly areas where robotic space craft are built and readied for their journey to the outer reaches of outer space. On the far wall in the picture below are the mission symbols for all of the space craft that have come through this building.


It was a great tour. It was a lot easier than trying to go to the public open house held last month.

Jet Propulsion Labratory

October 10, 2015

JPL CampusLast week our son Mike told us that JPL would be holding an open house this weekend (Saturday and Sunday). So we thought that sounds like fun. Maybe we should take a ride up to Pasadena and see what’s happening at JPL. So I checked out JPL’s web site for directions and information. It was a straight shot up the 110 to Pasadena.

The web site recommended to get an early start as parking would be a challenge. Well we didn’t get much of an early start. We finally got going at about 10 AM.

It turns out that not only was JPL having a big event, there was a big soccer game between USA and Mexico at the Rose bowl. Not good.

So we got into the JPL neighborhood and found a traffic jam of biblical proportions. Cars parked on side streets. One gate was closed to traffic. Signage was poor. So after about an hour of poking around the Pasadena neighborhood, we decided to give up. The rent was due on the morning’s coffee and no bathrooms in sight.

So JPL can put hardware onto Mars and send spacecraft to Pluto, but has trouble managing traffic. So we turned around and reprogrammed our GPS for home with intermediate stops at the Happy Diner in San Pedro and Trader Joe’s supermarket.

So, in lieu of a personal account of the open house. Here a few facts and pictures culled from Wikipedia and JPL’s web site.

First, here is the Wikipedia entry for JPL. And here is the link to JPL’s web site. Go check them out. There are a lot of neat pictures.

Curiosity Rover

Curiosity Rover

JPL has been responsible for several projects related to Mars. One of the recent projects was a launched in 2011 and landed on Mars in 2012. This picture is Rover’s selfie. Here’s the wiki link.

While I’m thinking about it, go see Matt Damon’s new film titled “The Martian”. I wrote a blog post a few weeks ago about the book. Here’s the link to the IMDB entry.

So that’s about it. Maybe we’ll get up there next year, Pasadena that is not Mars.