Dr. Charles Elachi, Director of JPL, offers a great description:
“Trailblazing has been the business of JPL since it was established by the California Institute of Technology in the 1930s. America’s first satellite, Explorer 1 which launched in 1958, was created at JPL. In the decades that followed, we sent the first robotic craft to the moon and out across the solar system, reconnoitering all of the planets. Pushing the outer edge of exploration, in fact, is the reason JPL exists as a NASA laboratory.
“In that spirit, this is an exceptionally busy period for JPL in laying new paths. Last November, the Deep Impact spacecraft made a close flyby of a small, peanut-shaped comet, one of only a handful ever visited. In February, our Stardust spacecraft executed another flyby, making a return visit to a comet Deep Impact had studied years before. The asteroid belt was the destination in July when the Dawn spacecraft arrived at the protoplanet Vesta, which it will orbit for a year before continuing on to the dwarf planet Ceres. In August, we launched the Jupiter-bound Juno; in September, the GRAIL twin spacecraft to Earth’s moon. Soon we will launch our next flagship rover mission, Mars Science Laboratory.”
I’m a child of the Space Age. I remember very well the night Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. We watched as a family, about 11pm on July 21, 1969, as “man on the moon” happened. Having a scientist for a father and an educator for a mom, they made sure me and my friends knew how momentous an event this was. We watched for an hour afterwards, talking and thinking about what we had seen.
My boyish love of science has not abated. I am still fascinated by the laws of the universe and the mathematics of science. And so we have a very strong focus on science in general, here at Radio Newark. I am thankful that the Jet Propulsion Laboratory produces such good audio so that we may all follow them along on their next enthralling adventure.