SMAP emblem
Not all missions that go through JPL's Spacecraft Assembly Facility get an emblem on its Wall of Fame in High Bay 1, but all that do, including the SMAP mission, get memorialized with a placard made of materials intended to keep the clean room clean. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Spacecraft Assembly Facility's High Bay 1 clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has given form to an entire a fleet of famous NASA missions. From the clean room gallery, visitors can see placards memorializing many of them on the Wall of Fame. But not every spacecraft that's been in the spotless facility gets a placard.

So what does it take?

After systems engineer Arden Acord was tapped in 2008 to create the emblems for JPL, he laid down some guidelines: To make it onto the Wall of Fame, a mission has to have been largely assembled and tested in the building (that includes High Bay 2, where most Earth missions at JPL are constructed).

And the mission must have successfully launched. Failing afterward, as most of the Ranger missions did, wouldn't disqualify them. "A lot of hard work goes on in the Spacecraft Assembly Building," Acord said. "But when something fails, it's doesn't discredit all the blood, sweat and tears that went into trying to make it work."

Each emblem includes the year a mission launched and its destination. Colors indicate a spacecraft's target: blue for Earth, rust for Mars, gray for the Moon. For others, said Acord, "I picked whatever I thought looked nice."

Because early spacecraft, like the Rangers, were launched before mission logos became standard, all the Wall of Fame logos are custom designed and don't match the ones you might on find on the actual spacecraft. Likewise, not every logo depicts the spacecraft as it was meant to be. Galileo was equipped with a high-gain antenna that would be 16 feet (4.8 meters) wide when fully extended. Of course, the antenna famously malfunctioned, opening only partially. Look carefully at the wall, and you'll see that that's how Galileo appears in its emblem.

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Andrew Good
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.