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JPL Open House October 10-11, 2015
hendric
post Aug 25 2015, 02:33 PM
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JPL open house is aligning this year with my son's fall break, and my wife happens to be in Anaheim that week for the International Test Conference. Anyone else planning to go? Any tips on getting the best experience? Is anyone local able to organize a UMSF meetup? I'm also a ham radio operator, so we can setup meeting via radio on-site.


--------------------
Space Enthusiast Richard Hendricks
--
"The engineers, as usual, made a tremendous fuss. Again as usual, they did the job in half the time they had dismissed as being absolutely impossible." --Rescue Party, Arthur C Clarke
Mother Nature is the final inspector of all quality.
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hendric
post Oct 26 2015, 04:26 PM
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Finally got our pictures sorted from JPL open house. Due to a failed mission requirement, we didn't bring the good camera, so everything was done with smartphone cameras.

https://hendric.smugmug.com/Vacation/201510...House/i-v4TTkHc

Really wish we could have come both days, but we had to fly back Sunday. Getting to JPL from Disneyland/Anaheim was about as harrowing as a Mars landing, with complex traffic flow patterns and jams. Due to Google Maps screwing us yet again, we had to pull a Akatsuki-like manuever through a "roll em up" part of LA to get back on mission. Note to future travelers - Bring a real GPS, don't rely on your phone! Open House was crazy busy this year compared to 10 years ago when we last went. We vowed to never come again, but I bet if the planets align again we'll probably be there.

We focused on the hardware side of things with visits to the high bays, rovers, etc. My favorite parts:

The tool "vending machine" in the high bay.

The robot wheels/grippers/feet using tiny claws to hold onto surfaces. This is just begging for a 3D open-source model. Cal-tech can be pretty fierce with patent/copyright protection, otherwise I might add "learn 3D modelling/print on demand/rover building" to my bucket list of projects to do before I die.

Getting to see up close the holes in Scarecrow's wheels (Curiosity's Earthbound sister, nick-named Scarecrow because she "doesn't have a brain". As shown, her Earth weight matches Curiosity's Mars weight, and allows for accurate testing of things like wheel wear.

Spent quite a bit of time in the Earth Observing Missions hall - collected a lot of loot there, including a SMAP USB memory stick with information on its mission! It will have a 6-m antenna on a rotating platform to measure soil moisture. Spent quite a while talking to a NISAR engineer about their mission (working together with India) to monitor millimeter level changes across Earth using Synthetic Aperture Radar - they will be using a similar antenna to SMAP, but 2x as large. Also talked a bit with the Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2 PI - The mission is nominally 2 years, but they have consumables to last a decade or more. However, the mission is single-string. They have plans to put up a duplicate instrument on the ISS, so in the event of failure they will continue to collect some data. The ISS orbit covers most of the populated planet, so the data loss isn't catastrophic. Their data is now being released publicly, would be interesting to have amateurs try and generate videos from it, but I think it might be difficult. AVIRIS is a fascinating mission to observe coral reef colors with high-resolution spectroscopy to monitor health - the PI was starting with plane based instruments to understand the process and limitations, but was hoping to launch a space based mission to provide long-term coverage. I was impressed with the number of plane-based missions @ JPL - these typically don't get much press, but they are still critical for timely data, and proving out new instruments.

We hit the planetary exploration hall right before the end of open house, so we didn't get a chance to talk as much as I'd have liked. We saw a nifty Enceleadus model with steaming geysers (I took a few pics but no video, trying to conserve memory space). Got to talk with some people about Dawn. Talked to an engineer in front of an RTG display for a while - he was impressed with our level of knowledge of the RTGs, and their dire situation re: Pu239. Even with the restart, the amount of material is just a trickle compared to the number of missions that could use them. Stirling engines are great, but lack the long endurance track record, and with their mechanical parts mission planners are reluctant to use them. We need another series of Deep Space missions I guess to prove their long-term viability. I jokingly suggested a Kickstarter to setup a Stirling RTG long duration experiment in a lab corner - most boring webcam ever, next to http://smp.uq.edu.au/content/pitch-drop-experiment but I'd still put some money on it!

Really disappointed in the t-shirts this year. I think I'll create a few of my own using pics from here. Dawn and New Horizons practically beg for T-shirts, but I am kinda stumped as to how to present all the amazing pictures on a shirt in a comprehensible way.


--------------------
Space Enthusiast Richard Hendricks
--
"The engineers, as usual, made a tremendous fuss. Again as usual, they did the job in half the time they had dismissed as being absolutely impossible." --Rescue Party, Arthur C Clarke
Mother Nature is the final inspector of all quality.
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brellis
post Oct 26 2015, 08:53 PM
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Rode my bike up from S. Pasadena, great exercise and avoided parking issues. Very happy to see such huge crowds!

The staff wasn't buying my orbital insertion method for the Europa mission, however. rolleyes.gif


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algorithm
post Oct 26 2015, 08:59 PM
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Wow!
Looks like you all had a great day, thanks for linking to the photos,loved them.
You also got yourself some great booty and even managed to marry a space babe!! smile.gif
I'm now going to have another look at my Kennedy Space Center pics, and feel happy and sad at the same time. rolleyes.gif
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