Slice of History Blogs

Slice of History Blogs

The JPL Archivists share historical photos from the JPL Archives. Learn more about JPL history and explore the archives at https://jpl-nasa.libguides.com/archives.


Artist rendering of Ulysses craft in space, flying above Earth

Project Ulysses Team group photo on the steps of Building 180

JPLers and European Space Agency (ESA) staffers working on Ulysses craft

JPL’s first flight project manager, Willis G. Meeks, who sits with a model of Ulysses

6 October celebrates the 30th anniversary of the launch of Ulysses. Formerly known as the International Solar Polar Mission, Ulysses was the first mission to study the never before examined north and south poles of the Sun. [See more...] CL#20-4339

TAGS: HISTORY, ULYSSES, ANNIVERSARY, INTERNATIONAL SOLAR POLAR MISSION

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9 September 2020 marks the 45th anniversary of the launch of Viking Orbiter 2

9 September 2020 marks the 45th anniversary of the launch of Viking Orbiter 2. VO-2 played a crucial role in our current understanding of the Martian landscape. [See more...] CL#20-3845

TAGS: HISTORY, VIKING ORBITER 2, ANNIVERSARY, VO-2

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A training session next to the JPL fire station, demonstrating how to use the Scott Breath Air Pak

Original text from Lab-Oratory, December 1957, page 8

"AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION...you know the pitch. It's old but it never goes out of style. The best way to handle fumes, gas, air pollutants, etc., is not to have them in the first place. But if they do occur through accident you sometimes need some air -- fast! If it's in a tank and mask close by, you must be able to use it. Thus, the reason for the activity above, which took place next to the Fire House a few weeks ago.

Jack Lawless, Plant Protection and Safety (in the middle looking like an over-dressed skin diver) has been supplying customers to James Flannery, a representative of Scott Aviation Corp., for instruction on the proper procedure on handling the Scott Breath Air Pak. Left to right: Dr. Robert Poynter (Chemistry), Flannery, Lawless, Roy Vincent (Plant Protection and Safety) and Julia Whittick (Chemistry).

TAGS: TRAINING, SCOTT AVIATION, MASK

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In this 1988 photo, JPL Director Dr. Lew Allen (left) and his Deputy Director Dr. Peter Lyman

Dr. Peter T. Lyman in January 1990

Deputy Director Dr. Peter T. Lyman in his 9th floor office in August 1989

This month we remember Dr. Peter T. Lyman, who passed away in May 2020, with a series of photos from his tenure as Deputy Director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Dr. Lyman joined JPL in 1963, after serving in the Merchant Marine and Military Sea Transport Service. He earned three degrees, including a master's in naval architecture and a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. He worked on several different Mars missions at the beginning of his career, then became a manager with increasing responsibility in spacecraft design, information systems, mission management, and the Deep Space Network. Dr. Lyman became Deputy Director in 1987 and served in that position until he retired in 1992. He passed away on May 6, 2020 at the age of 90.

Explore the archives at https://jpl-nasa.libguides.com/archives.

TAGS: PETER LYMAN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, JPL

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Dr. Henry Richter

In 2018 JPL celebrates the 60th anniversary of America’s first satellite, Explorer 1.

Henry Richter started working at JPL in 1955 as an engineer and Supervisor for the New Circuit Elements Group. Later he was a Staff Engineer for the Deep Space Network and then Chief of the Space Instruments Section (322). During the Explorer Project Dr. Richter was project manager for the satellite design, in charge of JPL experiments for the International Geophysical Year, and was liaison between the Satellite Instrumentation Group and the Operations and Data Groups. He published a book in 2015 –America’s Leap into Space: My Time at JPL and the First Explorer Satellites.

On Wednesday, January 31 at 3:30, Dr. Richter will present his JPL Story in the Hub (111-104), followed at 4:30 by a book signing. He’ll share the story of JPL’s role working for the Army/Caltech and of the remarkable people who were part of the Explorer team. During the late 1950s, JPL extended rocket engineering to spacecraft design, using components that were on the cutting edge of technology. When they were finally given the chance to combine the instruments, upper stages, and launch vehicle, they accomplished the task in just a few months.

The JPL documentary Explorer 1 and the 1958 film X Minus 80 Days will be shown in the 111 Hub on Tuesday, January 30 from 12:00-1:15.

Explore the archives at https://jpl-nasa.libguides.com/archives.

TAGS: HENRY RICHTER, DEEP SPACE NETWORK, JPL

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Orrery

An orrery was built for NASA/JPL by Pre-Mec Engineering, Inc. and was designed by JPL engineer Raymond A. McCreary (Design Section, 356 – part of the Engineering Mechanics Division).

The scale of Earth and its moon was approximately 1 cm = 6000 km, but the scale of orbits, the Sun, and other moons varied.

Computer animations did not exist in the early 1960s, and like a trajectory model, this orrery helped engineers plan, visualize, and demonstrate the expected flight path, flyby, or landing to be made by a spacecraft. Missions in development at this time were Ranger and Surveyor (lunar missions), Mariner 2 to Venus, and Mariner 4 to Mars.

Explore the archives at https://jpl-nasa.libguides.com/archives.

TAGS: ORRERY, TRAJECTORY MODEL, SOLAR SYSTEM

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Mariner Jupiter Saturn 1977 (Voyager) Logo

In August and September 1977, two Voyager spacecraft were launched on a Grand Tour of the solar system. In 1973, the mission had been named Mariner Jupiter-Saturn 1977 (MJS ‘77) and was intended to go only as far as Jupiter and Saturn.

In March 1977 the mission name was changed to Voyager. In October 1978, a Voyager Fact Sheet mentioned the possibility of sending Voyager 2 to Uranus and Neptune. It would happen only if the primary science objectives were met at Saturn first. Even though the extended mission was not certain before launch, Voyager engineers (unofficially) designed and built the spacecraft to be capable of navigating to Uranus and Neptune, and surviving the longer trip. On-board computers were reprogrammed during the voyage, giving the spacecraft the ability to successfully return many more images and much more information than were expected. It’s unlikely the Voyager team imagined that both spacecraft would still be operating 40 years after launch.

For more information about the history of JPL, contact the JPL Archives for assistance. [Archival and other sources: Various Voyager and JPL History web pages; Voyager Fact Sheet, 10/6/1978; Section 260 photo album and index.

TAGS: VOYAGER, MARINER, URANUS, NEPTUNE, GRAND TOUR, JUPITER

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Mars Pathfinder Rover Team, 1994

In December 1994, a group of Mars Pathfinder team members gathered for a photo with the Sojourner Rover model.

In December 1994, a group of Mars Pathfinder team members gathered for a photo with the Sojourner Rover model.  They were working on rover technology development efforts about two years before the anticipated launch date.

On February 1, 1995, Mars Day was held on the JPL mall – an event for JPLers, schoolchildren, and visitors.  The Office of Mars Exploration sponsored presentations, booths, and demonstrations of technology from Mars Pathfinder and Mars Global Surveyor.  Mars Exploration Program Manager Donna Shirley said, “We wanted people from other projects and those who aren’t involved in our office to see what we’re up to, what kind of technologies we’ve developed.  We’re excited about what we’re doing and we wanted to share that excitement.”

If you would like to help the Archives staff identify people in this photo, please see the partial list at https://pub-lib.jpl.nasa.gov/docushare/dsweb/Services/Document-2749 (click on title to open PDF document).

For more information about the history of JPL, contact the JPL Archives for assistance. [Archival and other sources: Collection JPL508, various issues of Universe, photo index, Allen Sirotta, Brian Wilcox, and David Braun.]

TAGS: MARS, PATHFINDER, ROVER, TEAM, 1994

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Exhibit  explained the flow of data from a spacecraft to the Deep Space Network stations

In October 1967 Mariner 5 had just reached Venus, JPL was looking forward to the 10th anniversary of Explorer 1 and the launches of Surveyor 6 and 7 to the Moon, and Mariner 6 and 7 were in development.

When visitors were escorted into the lobby of the Space Flight Operations Facility (SFOF), they saw the reception/security desk, a waiting area, and this new exhibit. It explained the flow of data from a spacecraft to the Deep Space Network stations (or Deep Space Instrumentation Facilities) to the SFOF. A series of photos showed various work stations in the SFOF, as well as the technology being used in the facility (in the main operations area and behind the scenes). During 1967 and 1968, JPL hosted visits by NASA staff, members of Congress, foreign dignitaries, JPL contractors/partners, former employees, student groups, professional groups, celebrities, and the press.

For more information about the history of JPL, contact the JPL Archives for assistance. [Archival sources: 318 and P photo albums and index.]

TAGS: DEEP SPACE NETWORK, SPACE FLIGHT OPERATIONS EXHIBIT, MARINER, EXPLORER 1, SURVEYOR

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Titan Saturn mission artwork, 1976

In the 1970s and 80s, before advanced computer graphics, artist Ken Hodges was hired by JPL to create paintings that depicted many different missions – some in the planning stages and some only imagined.

Bruce Murray became JPL's Director in 1976, and he advocated new missions (Purple Pigeons) that would have enough pizzazz to attract public and scientific support.  Hodges painted many of the Purple Pigeon images, including this scene of a Saturn orbiter with a lander going to the surface of Saturn's largest moon Titan.  This artwork was done almost 30 years before Cassini's Huygens Probe reached the surface of Titan.  Cassini was launched in 1997 and spent seven years traveling to Saturn. The probe was released in December 2004, and landed on Titan on January 14, 2005.

For more information about the history of JPL, contact the JPL Archives for assistance. [Archival and other sources: P-numbered photo albums and indexes, Cassini and Huygens web pages.]

TAGS: SATURN, COMPUTER GRAPHICS, KEN HODGES, CASSINI, TITAN

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