Touring NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory with AME

Posted: November 15, 2016, 7:12pm


A few weeks ago, the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering senators for VGSA coordinated a tour of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) facility right next to us in Pasadena. JPL, a federally funded research and development center, is run by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The researchers here primarily construct and operate planetary robotic spacecraft, most notably the Mars rovers Curiosity and Opportunity, the Saturn orbiter Cassini-Huygens, the Jupiter orbiter Juno, the space probe Dawn, and more!

Approximately 30 of us got to see life-sized models of all of these projects and take a peek into a cleanroom (where they build them) and their mission control room. Other divisions within JPL conduct Earth-orbit and astronomy missions, and a special team operates NASA’s Deep Space Network. This system is a grid of 26-70 meter antennas located in California (USA), Madrid (Spain), and Canberra (Australia). Located roughly 120 degrees apart from each other around the globe, they continuously collect data from and send instructions to our spacecraft millions of miles away. Visiting this facility was utterly inspiring. I’m now trying to come up with ways to connect biomedical engineering to the space industry. Maybe I can work on spacesuits for future manned missions, or ensure our rovers are sterile so they don’t contaminate other planets? It will happen, just you wait.

Published on July 28th, 2017

Last updated on August 10th, 2017