When they told me I had to do a science with a lab in order to get an AS degree in Fashion Desgin - I almost didn't do it, I was going to stick to my Certificate. I hate science I don't understand it, I don't like cutting into slimmy things, and I don't like playing with beekers and chemicals. When they said "you can do Astronomy that has a Lab" I was so happy!
I had a great teacher, the Labs were awesome - we would drive just outside the San Diego City limits, and could look south and east. The one thing I love about the desert is you don't have to drive anywhere - zero light pollution - the sky is clear year round.
I had no clue that there was a NASA center in Pasadena - I found out that there name is missleading. They have never worked with Jet's - they came up with this name for the center back in the 30's when they were dealing with Rocket's - and because they wanted to be taken seriously they called it the 'Jet Propultion Lab' instead of the 'Rocket Propultion Lab' because the word Rocket at the time would bring up images of a futuristic 'your crazy to believe in Rockets' attitude.
They don't play with Rockets anymore - Our local center builds all the Robots, Satelites, and Rovers. All the cool stuff.
There was high security to get in. No there is no T-rex on the other side.
We go to visit the Space Flight Operations Facility - this is the room you see on the TV with all the people jumping and screaming when everything goes right! This is where they track all there currently working satelite's. I didn't know that Voyager is currently so far away that it is almost to the end of our universe and looking for the begining of the next!
It takes 12 hours to send it a signal and 12 hours to get the answer back. Even with a 70 Metter diameter Antena! Simply Amazing!
The count down screen for Keepler was on the screen while we were there, it lauched before we could get out of traffic and make it home! I think I want to move to space!
They are building a new robot - called the Mars Science Labratory - scheduled to launch in 2010. The Mars Rover's mission was a 6 month mission - it is now 2 years later and still alive and collecting data and information. They are hoping that it will still be working when then launch the new one. They didn't allow flash - so I had to autofocus. One shouldn't autofocus when your blind and not wearing your glasses - what looks good to you doesn't to others.
We got to look into the clean room where they are building it.
There is also a museum there. This is Cassini (I hadn't heard about this mission) but it's an awesome looking robot. It's collecting data around the rings of Saturn.
Here's a model of Voyager. It has a Gold 'Record' on the front of the base, that is a time capsule. We have given information, data, pictures, to whatever life out there that will find it - or even our future generations - that may find our space debrie. All these robots basically become space trash when they stop working, as they are all one way missions. We can't afford to go retrieve them.