Navigating spacecraft across the solar system has been likened to celestial billiards, where an artful "bumper shot" may be needed to get from one planet to another. A Jet Propulsion Laboratory spacecraft navigation expert will explain the art and science of this arcane field in a public lecture called "Navigation: Cruisin' Through Space," to be held Thursday, Oct. 19 at JPL and Friday, Oct. 20 at Pasadena City College.

Both lectures are at 7 p.m. Parking and admission are free and on a first-come, first-served basis.

Dr. Donald Gray, veteran of numerous space missions, will explain how JPL became the world leader in space navigation by delivering spacecraft to planets, comets, and asteroids throughout the solar system with unprecedented accuracy. Gray will also describe experiences that highlight the exuberance, nail biting, and triumph of innovation inherent in the field.

Gray, who has been with JPL for more than 25 years, has worked on the navigation teams of the Viking missions to Mars, the Voyager missions to the outer planets, and the Cassini mission to Saturn. He is currently working on Genesis, scheduled to launch next year on a mission to gather a sample of particles that stream outward from the Sun and return them to Earth for study.

Gray received a bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland in 1955, and a master's degree and doctorate in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1963 and 1967. Gray is the recipient of two NASA Exceptional Achievement Medals and a NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, among the agency's highest honors.

The lecture at JPL will be held in the von Karman Auditorium, located at 4800 Oak Grove Dr., Pasadena. The Pasadena City College lecture will be held in The Forum at the campus, located at 1570 E. Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena. More information on the von Karman Lecture Series can be found at or by calling (818) 354-0112. For directions to JPL, see .

JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology.

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