Jet Propulsion Laboratory Tour

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One of the things we have waited some time for is to go tour NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. Space is limited for tours and to wait for one takes about six months — that is in addition to waiting to sign up. We waited since March to be able to sign up in April for a tour date of yesterday.

Learning about the history and how JPL came to be was interesting. Not what you’d expect, as it was brought together by two rocket enthusiasts who were grad students. As one of the three NASA sites in California, JPL is the robotics facility for space flight operations. On the tour, we saw Mars Rovers, spacecrafts, Low-Density Supersonic Decelerators (LDSD), and the Mission Control Room.

We entered a temperature-controlled laboratory, where engineers conduct tests on Low-Density Supersonic Decelerators. LDSD is a space vehicle designed to help create an atmospheric drag before landing on Mars. It’s supposed to decelerate, assisted by a parachute. This vehicle will be used to increase and deliver payload on Mars. A test flight was done back in June. Everything went as NASA expected, except they balloon didn’t deploy correctly. With the test they performed, they will use the data to help them improve the parachute.

Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator

Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator

Inside JPL's museum

JPL Museum
In 2004, Spirit and Opportunity Rovers landed on Mars.

Galileo Spacecraft

Unmanned Galileo Spacecraft studied Jupiter and its moons, landing there in 1995.

Infrared Vision

Nick sees himself in infrared.

Curiosity Rover

Curiosity Rover
The Curiosity Rover is another robotic rover that landed on Mars in 2012. It’s car-sized, much bigger than Spirit and Opportunity.

Mission Control Room

Mission Control Room
When we visited the room it was relatively empty, which is good because it means all of the satellites are healthy. Satellites are monitored 24/7.

This was a fun and fascinating tour for us, a better time spent than our Tuesday when we endured a grueling twelve hours at the filming of Ted 2, watching the same scene being filmed over and over in that time. Despite seeing Mark Wahlberg, Amanda Seyfried, Seth MacFarlane, and the adorable foulmouth bear at work, JPL was just more fun, educational, and rewarding than Hollywood.

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