Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Overview
Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 field center located in the San Gabriel Valley
San Gabriel Valley
The San Gabriel Valley is one of the principal valleys of Southern California, United States. It lies to the east of Los Angeles, to the north of the Puente Hills, to the south of the San Gabriel Mountains, and west of the Inland Empire. It derives its name from the San Gabriel River that flows...

 area of Los Angeles County
Los Angeles County, California
Los Angeles County is a county in the U.S. state of California. As of 2010 U.S. Census, the county had a population of 9,818,605, making it the most populous county in the United States. Los Angeles County alone is more populous than 42 individual U.S. states...

, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The facility is headquartered in the city of Pasadena
Pasadena, California
Pasadena is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although famous for hosting the annual Rose Bowl football game and Tournament of Roses Parade, Pasadena is the home to many scientific and cultural institutions, including the California Institute of Technology , the Jet...

  on the border of La Cañada Flintridge
La Cañada Flintridge, California
La Cañada Flintridge is a small and affluent city in Los Angeles County, California, United States whose population at the 2010 census was 20,246, down from 20,318 at the 2000 census. According to Forbes, as of 2010, La Cañada Flintridge ranks as the 143rd most expensive U.S...

 and Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology
California Institute of Technology
The California Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering...

 (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory's primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Jet Propulsion Laboratory'
Start a new discussion about 'Jet Propulsion Laboratory'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 field center located in the San Gabriel Valley
San Gabriel Valley
The San Gabriel Valley is one of the principal valleys of Southern California, United States. It lies to the east of Los Angeles, to the north of the Puente Hills, to the south of the San Gabriel Mountains, and west of the Inland Empire. It derives its name from the San Gabriel River that flows...

 area of Los Angeles County
Los Angeles County, California
Los Angeles County is a county in the U.S. state of California. As of 2010 U.S. Census, the county had a population of 9,818,605, making it the most populous county in the United States. Los Angeles County alone is more populous than 42 individual U.S. states...

, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The facility is headquartered in the city of Pasadena
Pasadena, California
Pasadena is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although famous for hosting the annual Rose Bowl football game and Tournament of Roses Parade, Pasadena is the home to many scientific and cultural institutions, including the California Institute of Technology , the Jet...

  on the border of La Cañada Flintridge
La Cañada Flintridge, California
La Cañada Flintridge is a small and affluent city in Los Angeles County, California, United States whose population at the 2010 census was 20,246, down from 20,318 at the 2000 census. According to Forbes, as of 2010, La Cañada Flintridge ranks as the 143rd most expensive U.S...

 and Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology
California Institute of Technology
The California Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering...

 (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory's primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA's Deep Space Network
Deep Space Network
The Deep Space Network, or DSN, is a world-wide network of large antennas and communication facilities that supports interplanetary spacecraft missions. It also performs radio and radar astronomy observations for the exploration of the solar system and the universe, and supports selected...

.

Among the Laboratory's current projects are the Cassini–Huygens mission to Saturn
Saturn
Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second largest planet in the Solar System, after Jupiter. Saturn is named after the Roman god Saturn, equated to the Greek Cronus , the Babylonian Ninurta and the Hindu Shani. Saturn's astronomical symbol represents the Roman god's sickle.Saturn,...

, the Mars Exploration Rover
Mars Exploration Rover
NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Mission is an ongoing robotic space mission involving two rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, exploring the planet Mars...

s (Spirit
Spirit rover
Spirit, MER-A , is a robotic rover on Mars, active from 2004 to 2010. It was one of two rovers of NASA's ongoing Mars Exploration Rover Mission. It landed successfully on Mars at 04:35 Ground UTC on January 4, 2004, three weeks before its twin, Opportunity , landed on the other side of the planet...

and Opportunity
Opportunity rover
Opportunity, MER-B , is a robotic rover on the planet Mars, active since 2004. It is the remaining rover in NASA's ongoing Mars Exploration Rover Mission...

), the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is a NASA multipurpose spacecraft designed to conduct reconnaissance and Exploration of Mars from orbit...

, the Dawn mission
Dawn Mission
Dawn is a NASA spacecraft tasked with the exploration and study of the two largest members of the asteroid belt – Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres. The spacecraft was constructed with some European cooperation, with partners in Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands providing Dawns framing...

 to Ceres and Vesta
4 Vesta
Vesta, formally designated 4 Vesta, is one of the largest asteroids, with a mean diameter of about . It was discovered by Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers on March 29, 1807, and is named after the Roman virgin goddess of home and hearth, Vesta....

, and the Spitzer Space Telescope
Spitzer Space Telescope
The Spitzer Space Telescope , formerly the Space Infrared Telescope Facility is an infrared space observatory launched in 2003...

.

JPL's Space Flight Operations Facility
Space Flight Operations Facility
Space Flight Operations Facility is a control room and related communications equipment areas at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California...

 and Twenty-Five-Foot Space Simulator
Twenty-Five-Foot Space Simulator
The Twenty-Five-Foot Space Simulator is an high stainless-steel cylinder at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. in diameter, it is used for testing spacecraft in space-like conditions of extreme cold, near-vacuum pressure, and high radiation...

 are designated National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance...

s.

History



JPL traces its beginnings to 1936 in the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory
Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory
The Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology , was a research institute created in 1926, at first specializing in aeronautics research. In 1930, Hungarian scientist Theodore von Kármán accepted the directorship of the lab and emigrated to the United States. Under...

 at the California Institute of Technology (GALCIT) when the first set of rocket experiments were carried out in the Arroyo Seco
Arroyo Seco (Los Angeles County)
The Arroyo Seco, meaning "dry stream" in Spanish, is a seasonal river, canyon, watershed, and cultural area in Los Angeles County, California, United States. The Arroyo Seco has been called the most celebrated canyon in Southern California.-River course:...

. Caltech graduate students Frank Malina
Frank Malina
Frank Joseph Malina was an American aeronautical engineer and painter, especially known for becoming both a pioneer in the art world and the realm of scientific engineering.-Early life:...

, Weld Arnold, Apollo M. O. Smith, and Tsien Hsue-shen
Tsien Hsue-shen
Qian Xuesen was a scientist who made important contributions to the missile and space programs of both the United States and People's Republic of China. Historical documents in the U. S. commonly refer to him with the earlier family-name last spelling, Hsue-Shen Tsien or H.S...

, along with Jack Parsons and Edward Forman, tested a small, alcohol fueled motor to gather data for Malina's graduate thesis. Malina's thesis advisor was aerodynamicist Theodore von Kármán
Theodore von Karman
Theodore von Kármán was a Hungarian-American mathematician, aerospace engineer and physicist who was active primarily in the fields of aeronautics and astronautics. He is responsible for many key advances in aerodynamics, notably his work on supersonic and hypersonic airflow characterization...

, who eventually arranged for U.S. Army financial support for this "GALCIT Rocket Project" in 1939. In 1941, Malina, Parsons, Forman, Martin Summerfield, and pilot Homer Bushey demonstrated the first JATO
JATO
JATO is an acronym for jet-fuel assisted take off. It is a system for helping overloaded aircraft into the air by providing additional thrust in the form of small rockets....

 rockets to the Army. In 1943, von Kármán, Malina, Parsons, and Forman established the Aerojet Corporation to manufacture JATO motors. The project took on the name Jet Propulsion Laboratory in November 1943 formally becoming an Army facility operated under contract by the university.

During JPL's Army years, the Laboratory developed two deployed weapon systems, the MGM-5 Corporal
MGM-5 Corporal
The MGM-5 Corporal missile was the first guided weapon authorized by the United States to carry a nuclear warhead.The first nuclear-authorized unguided rocket was the MGR-1 Honest John...

 and MGM-29 Sergeant
MGM-29 Sergeant
The MGM-29 Sergeant was an American short-range, solid fuel, surface-to-surface missile developed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Activated by the US Army in 1962 to replace the MGM-5 Corporal it was deployed overseas by 1963, carrying the W52 nuclear warhead or alternatively one of high explosives...

 intermediate range ballistic missiles. These missiles were the first US ballistic missiles developed at JPL. It also developed a number of other weapons system prototypes, such as the Loki anti-aircraft missile system, and the forerunner of the Aerobee sounding rocket. At various times, it carried out rocket testing at the White Sands Proving Ground, Edwards Air Force Base
Edwards Air Force Base
Edwards Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located on the border of Kern County, Los Angeles County, and San Bernardino County, California, in the Antelope Valley. It is southwest of the central business district of North Edwards, California and due east of Rosamond.It is named in...

, and Goldstone, California. A lunar lander was also developed in 1938-39 which influenced design of the Apollo Lunar Module
Apollo Lunar Module
The Apollo Lunar Module was the lander portion of the Apollo spacecraft built for the US Apollo program by Grumman to carry a crew of two from lunar orbit to the surface and back...

 in the 1960s.

In 1954, JPL teamed up with Wernher von Braun
Wernher von Braun
Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun was a German rocket scientist, aerospace engineer, space architect, and one of the leading figures in the development of rocket technology in Nazi Germany during World War II and in the United States after that.A former member of the Nazi party,...

’s rocketeers at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency
Army Ballistic Missile Agency
The Army Ballistic Missile Agency was the agency formed to develop the US Army's first intermediate range ballistic missile. It was established at Redstone Arsenal on February 1, 1956 and commanded by Major General John B...

’s Redstone Arsenal
Redstone Arsenal
Redstone Arsenal is a United States Army base and a census-designated place adjacent to Huntsville in Madison County, Alabama, United States and is part of the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area...

 in Huntsville, Alabama
Huntsville, Alabama
Huntsville is a city located primarily in Madison County in the central part of the far northern region of the U.S. state of Alabama. Huntsville is the county seat of Madison County. The city extends west into neighboring Limestone County. Huntsville's population was 180,105 as of the 2010 Census....

, to propose orbiting a satellite during the International Geophysical Year
International Geophysical Year
The International Geophysical Year was an international scientific project that lasted from July 1, 1957, to December 31, 1958. It marked the end of a long period during the Cold War when scientific interchange between East and West was seriously interrupted...

. The team lost that proposal to Project Vanguard
Project Vanguard
Project Vanguard was a program managed by the United States Naval Research Laboratory , which intended to launch the first artificial satellite into Earth orbit using a Vanguard rocket as the launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral Missile Annex, Florida....

, and instead embarked on a classified project to demonstrate ablative re-entry technology using a Jupiter-C
Jupiter-C
The Jupiter-C was an American sounding rocket used for three sub-orbital spaceflights in 1956 and 1957 to test re-entry nosecones that were later to be deployed on the more advanced PGM-19 Jupiter mobile missile....

 rocket. They carried out three successful sub-orbital flights in 1956 and 1957. Using a spare Jupiter-C, the two organizations then launched America’s first satellite, Explorer 1, on February 1, 1958.

JPL was transferred to NASA after it was founded in October 1958, becoming the agency’s primary planetary spacecraft center. JPL engineers designed and operated Ranger
Ranger program
The Ranger program was a series of unmanned space missions by the United States in the 1960s whose objective was to obtain the first close-up images of the surface of the Moon. The Ranger spacecraft were designed to take images of the lunar surface, returning those images until they were destroyed...

 and Surveyor
Surveyor program
The Surveyor Program was a NASA program that, from 1966 through 1968, sent seven robotic spacecraft to the surface of the Moon. Its primary goal was to demonstrate the feasibility of soft landings on the Moon...

 missions to the Moon
Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

 that prepared the way for Apollo. JPL also led the way in interplanetary exploration
Interplanetary travel
Interplanetary spaceflight or interplanetary travel is travel between planets within a single planetary system. In practice, spaceflights of this type are confined to travel between the planets of the Solar System....

 with the Mariner
Mariner program
The Mariner program was a program conducted by the American space agency NASA that launched a series of robotic interplanetary probes designed to investigate Mars, Venus and Mercury from 1963 to 1973...

 missions to Venus
Venus
Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. The planet is named after Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the Moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky, reaching an apparent magnitude of −4.6, bright enough to cast shadows...

, Mars
Mars
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

, and Mercury
Mercury (planet)
Mercury is the innermost and smallest planet in the Solar System, orbiting the Sun once every 87.969 Earth days. The orbit of Mercury has the highest eccentricity of all the Solar System planets, and it has the smallest axial tilt. It completes three rotations about its axis for every two orbits...

.

JPL was early to offer employment opportunities to women mathematicians. In the 1940s and 1950s, using mechanical calculators, women in an all-female computations group performed trajectory calculations. In 1961, JPL hired their first woman engineer
Dana Ulery
Dr. Dana Ulery is an American computer scientist and pioneer in scientific computing applications. She began her career in 1961 as the first woman engineer at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory , designing and developing algorithms to model NASA’s Deep Space Network capabilities and automating...

 to work along side male engineers as part of the Ranger
Ranger program
The Ranger program was a series of unmanned space missions by the United States in the 1960s whose objective was to obtain the first close-up images of the surface of the Moon. The Ranger spacecraft were designed to take images of the lunar surface, returning those images until they were destroyed...

 and Mariner
Mariner program
The Mariner program was a program conducted by the American space agency NASA that launched a series of robotic interplanetary probes designed to investigate Mars, Venus and Mercury from 1963 to 1973...

 mission tracking teams.

JPL has been recognized four times by the Space Foundation
Space Foundation
The Space Foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports the global space industry through information and education programs. It is a resource for the entire space community - industry, national security organizations, civil space agencies, private space companies and the military around the...

: with the Douglas S. Morrow Public Outreach Award, which is given annually to an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to public awareness of space programs, in 1998; and with the John L. "Jack" Swigert, Jr., Award for Space Exploration on three occasions – in 2009 (as part of NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander Team), 2006 and 2005.

Location


When founded, JPL's site was a rocky flood-plain just outside the city limits of Pasadena
Pasadena, California
Pasadena is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although famous for hosting the annual Rose Bowl football game and Tournament of Roses Parade, Pasadena is the home to many scientific and cultural institutions, including the California Institute of Technology , the Jet...

. Almost all of the 177 acres (72 ha) of the U.S. federal government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

/NASA owned property that makes up the JPL campus is today located in the city of La Cañada Flintridge, California
La Cañada Flintridge, California
La Cañada Flintridge is a small and affluent city in Los Angeles County, California, United States whose population at the 2010 census was 20,246, down from 20,318 at the 2000 census. According to Forbes, as of 2010, La Cañada Flintridge ranks as the 143rd most expensive U.S...

, but it maintains a Pasadena
Pasadena, California
Pasadena is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although famous for hosting the annual Rose Bowl football game and Tournament of Roses Parade, Pasadena is the home to many scientific and cultural institutions, including the California Institute of Technology , the Jet...

 address (4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA 91109). The city of La Cañada Flintridge, California
La Cañada Flintridge, California
La Cañada Flintridge is a small and affluent city in Los Angeles County, California, United States whose population at the 2010 census was 20,246, down from 20,318 at the 2000 census. According to Forbes, as of 2010, La Cañada Flintridge ranks as the 143rd most expensive U.S...

 was incorporated in 1976, well after JPL attained international recognition with a Pasadena address. There has been periodic conflict between the two cities over the issue of which should be mentioned in the media as the home of the laboratory.

Employees


There are approximately 5,000 full-time Caltech employees, and typically a few thousand additional contractors working on any given day. NASA also has a resident office at the facility staffed by federal managers who oversee JPL's activities and work for NASA. There are also some Caltech graduate students
Graduate school
A graduate school is a school that awards advanced academic degrees with the general requirement that students must have earned a previous undergraduate degree...

, college student interns and co-op students. Caltech and JPL jointly offer research opportunities for students, such as the SURF program (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship).

Open House



The lab has an open house once a year on a Saturday and Sunday in May, when the public is invited to tour the facilities and see live demonstrations of JPL science and technology. More limited private tours are also available throughout the year if scheduled well in advance. Thousands of schoolchildren from Southern California and elsewhere visit the lab every year.

Planetary Science Summer School


The Planetary Science Summer School (PSSS) is an annual workshop sponsored by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The program involves an one-week team design exercise developing an early mission concept study, working with JPL's Advanced Projects Design Team ("Team X") and other concurrent engineering teams.

Other works


In addition to its government work, JPL has also assisted the nearby motion picture and television industries, by advising them about scientific accuracy in their productions. Science fiction shows advised by JPL include Babylon 5
Babylon 5
Babylon 5 is an American science fiction television series created, produced and largely written by J. Michael Straczynski. The show centers on a space station named Babylon 5: a focal point for politics, diplomacy, and conflict during the years 2257–2262...

and its sequel series, Crusade
Crusade (TV series)
Crusade is a spin-off TV show from J. Michael Straczynski's Babylon 5. Its plot is set in AD 2267, five years after the events of Babylon 5, and just after the movie A Call to Arms. A race called the Drakh have released a nanovirus plague on Earth, which will destroy all life on Earth within five...

.

Funding


JPL is a federally funded research and development center
Federally funded research and development center
Federally Funded Research and Development Centers conduct research for the United States Government. They are administered in accordance with U.S Code of Federal Regulations, Title 48, Part 35, Section 35.017 by universities and corporations....

 (FFRDC) managed and operated by Caltech under a contract from NASA. JPL-run projects include the Galileo mission to Jupiter
Jupiter
Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest planet within the Solar System. It is a gas giant with mass one-thousandth that of the Sun but is two and a half times the mass of all the other planets in our Solar System combined. Jupiter is classified as a gas giant along with Saturn,...

 and its moons, the Mars rover
Mars Rover
A Mars rover is an automated motor vehicle which propels itself across the surface of the planet Mars after landing.Rovers have several advantages over stationary landers: they examine more territory, they can be directed to interesting features, they can place themselves in sunny positions to...

s (including the 1997 Mars Pathfinder
Mars Pathfinder
Mars Pathfinder was an American spacecraft that landed a base station with roving probe on Mars in 1997. It consisted of a lander, renamed the Carl Sagan Memorial Station, and a lightweight wheeled robotic rover named Sojourner.Launched on December 4, 1996 by NASA aboard a Delta II booster a...

 and the twin 2003 Mars Exploration Rover
Mars Exploration Rover
NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Mission is an ongoing robotic space mission involving two rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, exploring the planet Mars...

s). JPL has sent unmanned missions to every planet
Planet
A planet is a celestial body orbiting a star or stellar remnant that is massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity, is not massive enough to cause thermonuclear fusion, and has cleared its neighbouring region of planetesimals.The term planet is ancient, with ties to history, science,...

 in our Solar System
Solar System
The Solar System consists of the Sun and the astronomical objects gravitationally bound in orbit around it, all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun...

. JPL has also conducted extensive mapping missions of Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

. JPL manages the worldwide Deep Space Network
Deep Space Network
The Deep Space Network, or DSN, is a world-wide network of large antennas and communication facilities that supports interplanetary spacecraft missions. It also performs radio and radar astronomy observations for the exploration of the solar system and the universe, and supports selected...

, with facilities in California's
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 Mojave Desert
Mojave Desert
The Mojave Desert occupies a significant portion of southeastern California and smaller parts of central California, southern Nevada, southwestern Utah and northwestern Arizona, in the United States...

, in Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 near Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

, and in Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 near Canberra
Canberra
Canberra is the capital city of Australia. With a population of over 345,000, it is Australia's largest inland city and the eighth-largest city overall. The city is located at the northern end of the Australian Capital Territory , south-west of Sydney, and north-east of Melbourne...

.

Peanuts tradition


There is a tradition at JPL to eat "good luck peanut
Peanut
The peanut, or groundnut , is a species in the legume or "bean" family , so it is not a nut. The peanut was probably first cultivated in the valleys of Peru. It is an annual herbaceous plant growing tall...

s" before critical mission events, such as orbital insertions or landings. As the story goes, after the Ranger program
Ranger program
The Ranger program was a series of unmanned space missions by the United States in the 1960s whose objective was to obtain the first close-up images of the surface of the Moon. The Ranger spacecraft were designed to take images of the lunar surface, returning those images until they were destroyed...

 had experienced failure after failure during the 1960s, the first successful Ranger mission to impact the moon occurred while a JPL staff member was eating peanuts. The staff jokingly decided that the peanuts must have been a good luck charm and the tradition persisted.

Missions


These are some of the missions partially sponsored by JPL:

List of directors

  • Dr. Theodore von Kármán
    Theodore von Karman
    Theodore von Kármán was a Hungarian-American mathematician, aerospace engineer and physicist who was active primarily in the fields of aeronautics and astronautics. He is responsible for many key advances in aerodynamics, notably his work on supersonic and hypersonic airflow characterization...

    , 1938 – 1944
  • Dr. Frank Malina
    Frank Malina
    Frank Joseph Malina was an American aeronautical engineer and painter, especially known for becoming both a pioneer in the art world and the realm of scientific engineering.-Early life:...

    , 1944 – 1946
  • Dr. Louis Dunn
    Louis Dunn
    Louis G. Dunn was a South African-born engineer who played a key role in the development of early American missiles and launch vehicles.- Caltech :...

    , 1946 – October 1, 1954
  • Dr. William Hayward Pickering
    William Hayward Pickering
    William Hayward Pickering ONZ KBE was a New Zealand born rocket scientist who headed Pasadena, California's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for 22 years, retiring in 1976...

    , October 1, 1954 – March 31, 1976
  • Dr. Bruce C. Murray
    Bruce C. Murray
    Bruce C. Murray was born November 30, 1931 in New York, NY. He is a professor emeritus of planetary science and geology at Caltech and was Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory from April 1, 1976 to June 30, 1982.He received his Ph.D...

    , April 1, 1976 – June 30, 1982
  • Dr. Lew Allen, Jr., July 22, 1982 – December 31, 1990
  • Dr. Edward C. Stone, January 1, 1991 – April 30, 2001
  • Dr. Charles Elachi
    Charles Elachi
    Charles Asshur Al-Wadad Elachi is the Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory , located in Pasadena, California. He has held this position since May 1, 2001 and also holds professorships in electrical engineering and planetary science at Caltech....

    , May 1, 2001 – Present

Team X


The JPL Advanced Projects Design Team, also known as Team X, is an interdisciplinary team of engineers that "utilizes concurrent engineering methodologies to complete rapid design, analysis and evaluation of mission concept designs".

Employee background check lawsuit



On February 25, 2005, the Homeland Security
Homeland security
Homeland security is an umbrella term for security efforts to protect states against terrorist activity. Specifically, is a concerted national effort to prevent terrorist attacks within the U.S., reduce America’s vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do...

 Presidential Directive 12 was approved by the Secretary of Commerce. This was followed by the Federal Information Processing Standards 201 (FIPS 201
FIPS 201
FIPS 201 is a United States federal government standard that specifies Personal Identity Verification requirements for Federal employees and contractors....

), which specified how the federal government should implement personal identity verification. New specifications led to a need for rebadging to meet the updated requirements.

On August 30, 2007, a group of JPL employees filed suit in federal court against NASA, Caltech, and the Department of Commerce, claiming their Constitutional rights were being violated by new, overly invasive background investigations. 97% of JPL employees were classified at the low-risk level and would be subjected to the same clearance procedures as those obtaining moderate/high risk clearance. Under HSPD12 and FIPS 201, investigators have the right to obtain any information on employees, which includes questioning acquaintances on the status of the employee's mental, emotional, and financial stability. Additionally, if employees depart JPL before the end of the two year validity of the background check, no investigation ability gets terminated; former employees can still be legally monitored.

Employees were told that if they did not sign an unlimited waiver of privacy, they would be deemed to have "voluntarily resigned". The rebadging rules were designed to make JPL compliant with FIPS 201. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is a U.S. federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:* District of Alaska* District of Arizona...

found the process violated the employees' privacy rights and has issued a preliminary injunction. NASA appealed and the US Supreme Court granted certiorari on March 8, 2010. On January 19, 2011, the Supreme Court overturned the Ninth Circuit decision, ruling that the background checks did not violate any constitutional privacy right that the employees may have had.

External links