OK, I admit it, I’m totally geeking out…
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA, is bringing back their Open House this fall! If you are a fan of the JPL Open House then you might remember that it was cancelled last year due to the sequester. Fortunately, that’s behind us and this important and exciting public event will be taking place on Saturday, October 11, and Sunday, October 12, 2014, from 9am to 4pm.
Not familiar with it? Well, let me tell you, if you live anywhere near Pasadena and are even a little bit of a space geek then you will absolutely love the open house (and if you are not a space geek when you arrive, there’s a good chance that you will be one by the time you leave!). It’s a cross between a science fair and Disneyland. If that’s not enough to entice you, then it might help to know that admission and parking are FREE.
There is almost too much to do in a single day. So, you might want to consider coming on Saturday so that you can come back on Sunday to catch the things you miss the first time around. The past few times they’ve had working models of various rovers cruising over rocks right as you enter the property (the place is huge and hilly, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes). In the building immediately to the left, there was a scale model of the Curiosity rover and a welcome video showcasing the breadth of dynamic work they do at JPL. To the right there was an outdoor display about the work of the Spirit and Opportunity rovers. I remember spending over an hour exploring these areas alone.
That, however, is just the tip of the iceberg! You’ll want to be sure to visit the Space Flight Operations Facility, which serves as mission control for a variety of current missions, and the Spacecraft Assembly Facility, which features the clean room where everything from the Voyager spacecraft to the Curiosity rover were built. There is too much to list, but highlights of the event include robotics demonstrations, current and upcoming mission showcases, and hands-on activities for the kids.
Here are a few tips. Arrive early to ensure parking and shorter lines. Bring drinking water, sunscreen, and some cash for lunch at one of the many food booths. Wear comfortable walking shoes (as mentioned above). Finally, not to lay it on too think, but be sure to bring your scientific curiosity and a sense of adventure!
Worthy of note: If you’re not available the weekend of October 11th and 12th, then you might want to take advantage of one of JPL’s free public tours.