JPL Explored


Been a little quiet on the updates recently because:
A) I’ve been waiting eagerly for news that really is Blog worthy, but can’t yet
B) I’ve been busy, so quit bugging me
C) Meh … whatever …  I don’t know … stuff

But it would be bad if I passed up a chance to describe an event that rolled past last weekend.  JPL (aka Jet Propulsion Lab aka the NASA center aka the place that signs my paychecks) held an open house called “Explore JPL” this past weekend.  It wasn’t completely a true open house – you had to get tickets, free tickets mind you, but you could only enter with your ticket at your allotted time; and tickets ‘sold out’ within 15 minutes of becoming available a couple of months ago.  It’s not that they have a short short list of people allowed in – the event still hosted approximately 22,000 people over the two days, it’s just historically that would be 30,000 showing up whenever they want and creating some real issues with crowds, wait times, and a lack of fried foods to feed everyone.

All kidding aside, this is really an astounding event.  JPL basically opens its doors to show off the things we do and how we do it.  They roll the rovers around, they show off new parts of their robotics, they let people see assembly areas, they tour the mission control, they get to hear about new explorations — all of that.  The event is worked by hundreds of volunteers … and yep, I was one of them.

All day Saturday, I stood dutifully by a booth prepared by our environmental affairs group and whenever someone came up to our table I said: “You are probably looking for the Satellite Assembly Facility – take those stairs down, then take a left, you can’t miss it.”  Sunday was more about electrocuting small children.

What made the event great for me was just watching, meeting, and talking to the people who came for the event.  Like I said, it wasn’t easy getting tickets, so these people weren’t just out with something to do on a weekend, these people were true fans.  There were great t-shirts and hats, there were a small minority of cosplayers (that’s people in costume for you squares out there), there were people geeking out at the smallest of things — like the Science building, that became a selfie stop just so people can have a picture next to the word “Science”.   Talking to the other volunteers, the whole event was energizing for us – a reminder that we are doing really cool things.  It was a tiring, long weekend, but it was also energizing and thrilling.

So, if you were ever interested in seeing JPL and seeing all that we do here – Explore JPL is the event you want to keep an eye out to attend.  Just be ready to work to get those tickets.


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