You don’t have to head all the way to Houston to experience NASA – it’s right here in our backyard in Pasadena! NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in North Pasadena/La Cañada Flintridge is the leading U.S. center for robotic exploration of the solar system. The center has 19 spacecraft and 10 major instruments carrying out planetary, Earth science and space-based astronomy missions. The lab constructs and operates robotic spacecrafts on different planets, and sends rockets into space to learn more about our galaxy.
Their current missions are very impressive, and it’s thrilling to realize that this space exploration is happening so close by. Right now, they are operating the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers on Mars, a spacecraft orbiting Jupiter, an x-ray telescope seeking black holes, and a rocket mission to the dwarf planet Ceres. You can learn more about what they’re up to on their website.
This site that updates you on the progress of their Mars explorations is particularly interesting. You can see the most recent images from Mars, get a weather report, and get all the latest updates from the planet. Check it out here.
And the best thing is, you can tour the facility! JPL offers annual public tours, called “A Ticket to Explore JPL.” The next one is on June 9-10, 2018, and you can stay updated on when tickets are available by joining their mailing list.
Or, you can book a weekday tour a few months in advance. The tour includes a multimedia presentation on JPL entitled “Journey to the Planets and Beyond,” which provides an overview of the Laboratory’s activities and accomplishments. You also get to tour the Karman Visitor Center, the Space Flight Operations Facility, and the Spacecraft Assembly Facility. September tour dates will still be open, so see the latest here.
The center also offers bi-monthly lectures on various topics. The next talk on March 22 and 23 is called “Planning Cassini’s Grand Finale: A Retrospective” You can check it out in person, or watch the live-stream to learn from the world’s experts on our universe. Check out the lecture schedule here.
While you are out and about around town try to talk to the people around you, you never know, one of them might be a rocket scientist!
Have you been to the Jet Propulsion Lab? Let’s get a group together and go visit soon!