"Dare mighty things," Teddy Roosevelt urged the world a century ago. Those are words we live by today at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It's our job to explore our planet, our solar system and the universe. We've been doing this since 1958 when we built and helped launch into orbit the first U.S. satellite, Explorer 1, which, by the way, gave the world the very first space science discovery - the Van Allen radiation belts that surround Earth.
Since the time of Explorer 1, we've visited every planet in our solar system. We've flown by planets, circled them and even, in the case of Mars, put rovers on the surface. In January we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the landings of the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Their warranty was for 90 days. But Spirit lasted six years! And even more impressive is Opportunity's achievement. It continues even today to roam about the Red Planet a decade later!
We recently held a celebration to honor Spirit and Opportunity. One person who shared her story was a young woman named Heather Justice. She was celebrating her 16th birthday when Opportunity landed, enveloped in air bags that bounced four stories into the air before rolling to a stop - definitely an example of daring a mighty thing. The landings made a big impression on Heather. And today she works at JPL. What does she do? She is one of the bright people who guide the rover as it rolls across the planet's surface in search of new discoveries.
But Heather is just one example of the talented young people at JPL. For instance, a group of them are responsible for an experiment called OPALS that will use a laser link to send videos to Earth from the International Space Station at unprecedented speeds. That will be launching soon, as will a slate of new Earth science missions that will increase our knowledge of our home planet.
In these pages you will find yet more stories of mighty things that we dare as we create missions exploring Earth, the solar system and the universe beyond. I hope you will find them as exciting as they are to all of the women and men at JPL who make them happen.
Dr. Charles Elachi
Director, Jet Propulsion Laboratory