NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab Celebrates 80th Birthday

Posted: Nov 1 2016, 6:44am CDT | by , Updated: Nov 1 2016, 11:45pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Happy Birthday JPL! NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab Celebrates 80th Birthday
No Balloons for JPL's Birthday, Just a 'Satelloon' JPL's Jack James, manager of NASA's Mariner program exploring the inner solar systemGoldstone Tracking the Echo 'Satelloon'This is what greeted visitors to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in December 1957. Echo, America's first communications satellite. This is what greeted visitors to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in December 1957, before NASA was created and the lab became one of its centers. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
  • NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab celebrates its 80th Anniversary

JPL, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, is currently celebrating its 80th anniversary.

In 1936, seven young adults gathered together to convert their fantasies into reality. A functional rocket was the ultimate goal. This implanted seed was to burgeon into the modern space program.

The Space Age came in all its sophistication and the rest of the world took it in a stride. One of the original ideas that was raised in the brainstorm that went on way back in 1936 was a Jet Propulsion Lab. Today there is visible proof of this dream having come true.

Yesterday was the 80th anniversary of this lab. The pioneers had taken a trek into the nearby foothills in order to light a rocket which then sped into the sky.

The Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) today is a pretty creative place with laid-back researchers and technicians. Many of the staff and administration members wear jeans and sneakers to the premises.

JPL has seen many milestones along the way. In 1968, the first orbiting spacecraft was one of the achievements of JPL. Then Voyager I and II were launched in 1977. Finally, the Mars Rover was sent to the Red Planet in 1997.

Other than that, a series of fly-by missions to Jupiter and Saturn count among the other salient accomplishments of JPL. The Voyager launches didn’t go as per plan.

There were glitches in the technology along the way. It took NASA and JPL some time to figure out why the software was malfunctioning. Along the way, the technicians and staff learnt many important lessons.

They learnt from their mistakes and thus honed the process of sending spacecrafts into space to a razor blade. JPL’s failures are just stepping stones to success.

As for the Mars Rover, it was a case of “following the water”. The surface of Mars was studied and explored by looking everywhere for traces of water. This was in the belief that life forms and microbes may lie in the vicinity since 70% of all living organisms is water.

The mission control room of JPL remains its main nerve center. All the important decisions were taken from inside this chamber. It was only thanks to JPL that a moon landing took place in its original context.

Many other agencies tried but failed miserably at the difficult task. NASA's JPL is celebrating 80 years of experimentation and progress. It is with pride that its staff and administration look back on how far they have come since that fateful day in 1936.

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