Open House

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory -- the place "where space exploration comes down to Earth" -- uses that theme this year to showcase many missions and adventures in planetary exploration for employees, their families and friends during the annual Open House, to be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 22 and 23.

Featuring a wide range of missions to Mars, Venus and the outer planets, the Open House will boast a variety of displays and booths describing spaceflight of the past, present and future, ongoing research activities and the latest in space technologies for the 21st century. Also opening its door for the first time this weekend is the Laboratory's very own "Mars Yard," a simulated Martian landscape that will be used to test robotic rovers in development for future exploration of the Red Planet.

Admission is free and guests can park in JPL's parking lots. On arrival, visitors will be given maps and schedules of the lectures, demonstrations, video showings and exhibits at the many locations that will be open. Souvenirs and space memorabilia also will be on sale and a full service cafeteria will be open both days.

The multimedia production, "Welcome to Outer Space," which chronicles JPL's past, present and future in space exploration, will be shown on a continuous basis in the Lab's von Karman Auditorium.

Representatives from dozens of NASA missions will staff booths on JPL's sprawling, university-like mall and answer questions about different spaceflight activities. Some buildings and laboratories will hold demonstrations of new instruments and technologies.

Displays will include NASA satellites that look at the Earth's oceans, clouds and ice packs, and those which monitor the "southern oscillation" or El Nio, which impacts weather worldwide, as well as greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Spaceflight missions such as the Ulysses mission to the Sun, the Galileo mission to Jupiter and images from the 1994 flights of JPL's Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C/X-band Synthetic Aperture system will be featured at designated locations.

Project members of the 1997 Cassini mission to Saturn and its mysterious moon, Titan, will be on hand at the Spacecraft Assembly Facility, a large clean room where the spacecraft will be built. A full-scale model of the spacecraft will be on display for viewing from the clean room gallery.

While Cassini will explore one of the great planetary systems of the solar system, NASA also wants to learn if planets exist around stars other than the Sun. JPL scientists will join in that effort by bringing leading-edge technologies to the forefront of space exploration. Some areas of the Lab will display exhibits of future missions that would search for and study distant star systems using Earth-based observatories or miniaturized spacecraft.

Visitors will be able to tour JPL's new Design Center, where teams of engineers design future spacecraft with sophisticated computer graphics software, or the Flight System Testbed, a new facility for rapid prototyping of electric systems to power future spacecraft. Other activities will include workshops in which participants will learn how NASA plans to explore Pluto, the most distant planet of the solar system. Imaginative spacecraft designs for the trip to Pluto will be on display, courtesy of students from the Pasadena Art Center College of Design.

The Laboratory is located at 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, off the 210 Foothill Freeway. Exit at the Berkshire/Oak Grove Drive offramp in La Canada Flintridge and proceed east (right) on Berkshire Avenue to Oak Grove Drive. Turn north (left) on Oak Grove Drive and follow the signs to the west entrance of the facility.

For further information, press may contact the JPL Public Information Office at (818) 354-5011. The public may contact the JPL Public Services Office at (818) 354-0112.

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