PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011

Contact: John Watson

May 1, 1997


      NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory opens its doors to the public for the annual open house on Saturday and Sunday, May 31 and June 1, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This popular, free event features exhibits and demonstrations about the Laboratory's ongoing research and space exploration missions.

      Many of the Lab's scientists and engineers will be on hand to answer questions about how spacecraft are sent to other planets, how scientists utilize space technologies to explore Earth and how researchers have begun searching for planets beyond our own solar system. Visitors will see exhibits, displays, demonstrations and presentations about space exploration of the past, present and future, covering such topics as planetary imaging, space robotics, spacecraft communications and tracking. Among the exciting activities for the whole family:

      - In a yard transformed into a replica of the Martian landscape, participants can view two full-scale models of Sojourner, a 10-kilogram (25-pound) microrover that will land on Mars on July 4 aboard the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft;

      - A full-scale model of Galileo, currently in orbit around Jupiter, which will be on display, along with a colorful exhibit of stunning images from Jupiter's moon, Europa, thought to have a water ocean beneath its icy surface;

      - The staff of the Near Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (NIMS), a science instrument on Galileo, will present an informational video, a hands-on model, a quiz about infrared technologies and free color photos of Jupiter and its moons;

      - The Cassini project will display a dramatic, full-scale model of the three-story-high Cassini spacecraft, along with samples of some of the nearly 700,000 submissions from around the world for the "Send Your Signature to Saturn" data disk that will be placed onboard the spacecraft prior to its October launch;

      - For a view of possible spacecraft of the future, visit the Microspacecraft Systems Technology Office display, featuring full-scale microspacecraft models about the size of a basketball;

      - The Center for Space Microelectronics Technology will display sensors for miniaturized instruments for future microspacecraft, including micro-seismometers to measure earthquakes here and on other planets, a laser the size of a grain of sand designed to measure Martian water vapor, and a miniature digital video imager consuming 1/100 the power of a conventional video camera;

      - Aerogel samples will be raffled off several times each day at a booth devoted to the Stardust mission (aerogel, a sponge- like substance that is 99.9 percent air, will be flown on the Stardust mission to capture dust from a comet tail);

      - The small, futuristic xenon ion propulsion engine, scheduled for its first use on the New Millennium DS1 mission launching in July 1998, will be on display in the midst of an 8,000-hour endurance test inside of a huge vacuum tank;

      - The Wide Field Planetary Camera (WFPC2) booth will give visitors up to one dozen different lithographs featuring new Hubble Space Telescope views of the universe, stars, nebulae, and the solar system, and the booth will also display two models depicting the Hubble Space Telescope and WFPC2;

      - The Robot Assisted Microsurgery system, a NASA-developed robotic arm designed to help surgeons perform extremely delicate surgery of the eye, heart or brain, will be demonstrated;

      - Those with an interest in origami won't want to miss a demonstration of inflatable antennae and solar sails, all packaged in tiny containers, designed to be unfurled--and retain their shapes--in space;

      - The Commercial Technology Office will display consumer products utilizing technology developed at JPL, including an ear thermometer, a Styrofoam insulation box used for transporting frozen steaks, and an eye tracker for the disabled;

      - The Ulysses project booth will feature a Ulysses "Scrabble" game every two hours, with prizes to the top wordsmiths, and will award Ulysses pins to young people aged 5 to 13 who complete a special Ulysses puzzle;

      - Exhibits about Mission to Planet Earth will focus on two ocean-observing projects and on radar images of Earth from 1978 to the present, along with a computer demonstration room featuring an educational CD-ROM about Earth imaging radar;

      - The Origins program will outline ways of detecting other solar systems and determining if there might be life elsewhere in the universe;

      - A special laser sensing system designed as part of a larger automated system to provide drivers with instant traffic information while on the road will be demonstrated; and

      - The JPL Archives will exhibit images produced during the early exploration of Mars, as well as highlights describing the history of JPL.

      Food and beverages will be available, along with such souvenirs as space videos, toys, and JPL and NASA merchandise. The JPL Stamp and Coin clubs will have booths selling the latest JPL space event commemorative covers and medallions.

      JPL is located at 4800 Oak Grove Drive in Pasadena, off the 210 Freeway at the Berkshire Avenue/Oak Grove Drive exit. For further information, visit the JPL web site at or call (818) 354-0112.

5/1/97 JGW