Among the many, many other events this past weekend, there was the can’t miss event…the JPL open house. Restored after the sequester and budget cuts, this event should be on top of NASA’s outreach budget. Although there is no advertising (except for a few emails and social media posts), the last event drew more than 400,000 people.
Although I don’t have and numbers for this years event, the staff people that I talked too said that Saturday had more visitors than the facility had ever had. I was there on Sunday, and it was packed as well. We arrived 40 minutes early and were still in line over 1/4 mile from the entrance. There were so many people waiting that they actually opened up early to avoid problems. When I left at noon (for another event that I needed to attend), the line of cars waiting to get in was backed up over a mile on the 210 freeway!
This year I started at the front of JPL. There are two lanes of traffic, one takes you to the rear parking lot and one takes you to the front. Last year we went to the rear parking lot.
At the entrance is the rover exhibit. Above is a copy of the Spirit/Opportunity rovers that JPL uses to help them understand what is happening on Mars.
A scale model of the wheels for Curiosity. Just to the left of the picture is another booth where JPL staffers line children up and roll over them with a set of Spirit/Opportunity wheels. It was great fun if the squeals of delight were any indication. I have a (not so good) video, but I had to reach over three people deep to even try and get that. It was VERY popular for kids and parents alike.
In one pavilion scale models of several satellites were on display. The Plank spacecraft is shown above.
A mockup of the instruments on WISE and what they do was being explained to a young lady that was very interested. It really does help that many of the staffers at JPL are women. I think it helps overcome some of the biases that society pressures young girls to believe about themselves. This is a concrete example of what a smart woman is capable of achieving in science.
This is just the first part. I have a lot more pictures that I will be posting this week so you can see what you missed.
FYI, according to people at JPL, NASA is trying to get this event back on its regular schedule. So due to the date this event was held (the beginning of the fiscal year), the next open house probably won’t be held until the March-May 2016 time frame.
– Ex astris, scientia –
I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +