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JPL opens its doors

Everyone can be a rocket scientist at JPL’s Open House May 2-3.

April 30, 2009|By Mary O’Keefe

Get ready to visit other planets, travel outside our solar system and even learn more about what is happening here on Earth. It is time again for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory Annual Open House from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., May 2 and 3.

Every year the lab is opened to public, allowing a look into what is happening in the area of space and Earth exploration. Kids can have a Mars rover roll over them and see robots that are designed to walk the surface of other planets. Visitors will be able to talk to scientists and engineers that work on mission to Mars, Saturn, Jupiter and Earth’s moon. They can view the sun through solar-safe telescopes and see how instruments measure greenhouse gases. There are alsohands-on activities for children, and adults.

In addition to exhibits and activities JPL will be honoring some important anniversaries that have advanced the exploration of space including saluting the 40th anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission, the first human landing on the moon on July 20, 1969.


There will also be a celebration of the International Year of Astronomy, a United Nations endorsed series of events that commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first telescope observations of space and planets by Italian scientist Galileo Galilei.

Visitors will also find out the latest news from Cassini, exploring Saturn, its rings and moons as an update on how the Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity are doing. Spirit has been having some communication problems in the past few weeks. The rover had failed to record data from a day’s activity period and Spirit failed to wake up for three consecutive communication sessions and rebooted its computer on three separate dates.

On April 23, the rover drove for the first time since April 8. Engineers are still investigating the rover’s bouts of amnesia along with other behavior problems.

Admission is free for JPL’s Open House. Visitors are advised to wear comfortable shoes, no buses will be provided from JPL parking lots but vans will be provided for mobility-challenged guests. Vehicles entering JPL are subject to inspection. Visitors cannot bring weapons, explosives,pets, skateboards, Segways and bicycles. No bags, backpacks or ice chests are allowed except for small purses and diaper bags.

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