Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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Posted by sonny 04/04/2009 @ 01:12

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News headlines
Scientists work to free Mars rover - Seattle Times
>The long-lived Mars rover Spirit is stuck in the sand on Mars, and controllers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., are scrambling to extricate the vehicle before it becomes entombed on the Red Planet....
The Camera That Saved Hubble... Twice: JPL's Wide Field and ... - Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Image credt: NASA/STScI/JPL First motion is almost always a big event in the world of space exploration. Whether the first motion is of a wheel beginning to rotate or a rocket lifting off the pad, first motion means things are definitely changing....
Who Is Responsible for Averting an Asteroid Strike? - ABC News
There is "a fair chance that the next Earth impactor will actually be identified with many decades and perhaps centuries of warning time," explains Mr. Chesley of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., in the March/April issue of the...
Two Spacecraft Set to Probe the Early Universe's Mysteries - Scientific American
Its overarching theme as an observatory is investigating star formation, says Paul Goldsmith, Herschel project scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. (Both spacecraft, though primarily ESA projects, were built in...
Riverside Space Day tries to inspire future scientists - Press-Enterprise
Jet Propulsion Laboratory Solar System Ambassador Richard Dierking presented that activity and explained that a model rocket with more weight in the nose is more stable in flight. Dierking, a volunteer trained by JPL, is also section adviser of the...
JPL Opens Doors to General Public - PCC Courier
You would had to assume that the shared interest in the normally closed to the public JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) facilities was that of that final frontier, space. Once the bomb-detecting dog wagged his tail in approval, attendees recieved the...
Mars rover stuck in loose soil - Whittier Daily News
By Alfred Lee, Staff Writer The five-year-old Mars Rover Spirit has been stuck in loose soil since May 1, Jet Propulsion Laboratory officials said Friday. Mission planners will simulate conditions in a JPL lab before attempting to move Spirit any...
Bombers don't yet feel at home in new Yankee Stadium - New York Daily News
Brian Cashman went out and promised a total of $243.5 million this winter to two of the highest quality free agents, CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett, who now must ply their wares in a jet propulsion laboratory. Of course, you can make the other argument as...
Mars Rovers Near Five Years of Science and Discovery - Elites TV
Of the hundreds of engineers and scientists who cheered at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 3, 2004, when Spirit landed safely, and 21 days later when Opportunity followed suit, none predicted the team would still be...
JPL's John Casani Honored by Air and Space Museum - Jet Propulsion Laboratory
JPL's John Casani receives the National Air & Space Museum's Lifetime Achievement Award. Image credit: Carolyn Russo/NASM, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution John Casani of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.,...

Jet Propulsion Laboratory

JPL logo

Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. The facility is situated in the Arroyo Seco of Los Angeles County and straddles the city boundaries of La Cañada Flintridge and Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory's primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA's Deep Space Network. Among its current projects are the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn, the Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity), the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the Spitzer Space Telescope.

JPL's Space Flight Operations Facility and Twenty-Five-Foot Space Simulator are designated National Historic Landmarks.

JPL traces its history back to 1936, when the first set of rocket experiments were carried out in the Arroyo Seco. Caltech graduate students Frank Malina, Weld Arnold, Apollo M. O. Smith, and Tsien Hsue-shen, along with Jack Parsons and Edward Forman, tested a small, alcohol fueled motor to gather data for Malina's graduate thesis. Malina's thesis advisor was aerodynamicist Theodore von Karman, who eventually arranged for U.S. Army financial support for this "GALCIT Rocket Project" in 1939. In 1941, Malina, Parsons, Forman, Martin Summerfield, and pilot Homer Bushey demonstrated the first JATO rockets to the Army. In 1943, Von Karman, Malina, Parsons, and Forman established the Aerojet Corporation to manufacture JATO motors, and the following year JPL formally became an Army facility operated under contract by Caltech.

During JPL's Army years, the Laboratory developed two deployed weapon systems, the MGM-5 Corporal and MGM-29 Sergeant intermediate range ballistic missiles. It also developed a number of other weapons system prototypes, such as the Loki anti-aircraft missile system, and the forerunner of the Aerobee sounding rocket. At various times, it carried out rocket testing at the White Sands Proving Ground, Edwards Air Force Base, and Goldstone, California.

In 1954, JPL teamed up with Wernher von Braun’s rocketeers at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency’s Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, to propose orbiting a satellite during the International Geophysical Year. The team lost that proposal to Project Vanguard, and instead embarked on a classified project to demonstrate ablative re-entry technology using a Jupiter-C rocket. They carried out three successful sub-orbital flights in 1956 and 1957. Using a spare Jupiter-C, the two organizations then launched America’s first satellite, Explorer 1, on February 1, 1958.

After NASA was founded in October 1958, JPL transferred to it and became the agency’s primary planetary spacecraft center. JPL engineers designed and operated Ranger and Surveyor missions to the Moon that prepared the way for Apollo. JPL also led the way in interplanetary exploration with the Mariner missions to Venus, Mars, and Mercury.

Almost all of the 177 acres (72 ha) of the U.S. federal government/NASA owned property that makes up the JPL campus is actually located in the city of La Cañada Flintridge, California, but it maintains a Pasadena address (4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA 91109). The city of La Cañada Flintridge, California was incorporated in 1976, well after JPL attained international recognition with a Pasadena address. Reasons for retaining the Pasadena address may include consistency over time, consistency with Caltech (most employees are Caltech employees and JPL is managed for NASA by Caltech), greater national and international recognition of the place name (relating in part to the Rose Bowl and the Rose Parade), and the simplicity of the address given that La Cañada Flintridge is one of the longest city names in the United States. There has been periodic conflict between the two cities over the issue of which should be mentioned in the media as the home of the laboratory.

There are approximately 5,000 full-time Caltech employees, and typically a few thousand additional contractors working on any given day. NASA also has a resident office at the facility staffed by federal managers who oversee JPL's activities and work for NASA. There are also some Caltech graduate students, college student interns and co-op students. Caltech and JPL jointly offer research opportunities for students, such as the SURF program (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship).

On August 30, 2007, a group of JPL employees filed suit in federal court against NASA, Caltech, and the Department of Commerce, claiming their Constitutional rights were being violated by new background investigations. Employees were told that if they did not sign an unlimited waiver of privacy , they would be deemed to have "voluntarily resigned". Ostensibly, the rebadging rules were designed to make JPL compliant with FIPS 201. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found the process violated the employees' privacy rights and has issued a preliminary injunction .

The lab has an open house once a year on a Saturday and Sunday in May, when the public is invited to tour the facilities and see live demonstrations of JPL science and technology. More limited private tours are also available throughout the year if scheduled well in advance. Thousands of schoolchildren from Southern California and elsewhere visit the lab every year. .

The Planetary Science Summer School (PSSS) is an annual workshop sponsored by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The program involves an one-week team design exercise developing an early mission concept study, working with JPL's Advanced Projects Design Team ("Team X") and other concurrent engineering teams.

In addition to its government work, JPL has also assisted the nearby motion picture and television industries, by advising them about scientific accuracy in their productions. Science fiction shows advised by JPL include Babylon 5 and its sequel series, Crusade.

JPL is a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) managed and operated by Caltech under a contract from NASA. JPL-run projects include the Galileo mission to Jupiter and its moons, the Mars rovers (including the 1997 Mars Pathfinder and the twin 2003 Mars Exploration Rovers). JPL has sent unmanned missions to every planet in our Solar System. JPL has also conducted extensive mapping missions of Earth. JPL manages the world-wide Deep Space Network, with facilities in California's Mojave Desert, in Spain near Madrid, and in Australia near Canberra.

There is a tradition at JPL to eat "good luck peanuts" before critical mission events, such as orbital insertions or landings. As the story goes, after the Ranger program had experienced failure after failure during the 1960s, the first successful Ranger mission of the landed on the moon while a JPL staffer was munching on peanuts. The staff jokingly decided that the peanuts must have been a good luck charm and the tradition persists today.

These are some of the missions partially sponsored by JPL.

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Jet Propulsion Laboratory Developmental Ephemeris

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory Developmental Ephemeris (JPL DE) is a product of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. This ephemeris is a system of numerical coefficients (for Chebyshev polynomials) which can be used to calculate the positions of the major and some minor planets of the solar system both in the past and the future. The positions given by the calculations represent a "best fit" between the gravitational equations of motion and various observations: distances to planets measured by radio signals from spacecraft, astronomical observations of planets and small bodies in the solar system, and ancient records of eclipses, among others.

There are several different versions of the JPL DE, each one with a 3-digit serial number following. They differ according to the year the data was revised and released, and according to the accuracy and time-range that each JPL DE covers.

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NASA logoMotto: For the Benefit of All.[1]

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA, pronounced /ˈnæsə/) is an agency of the United States government, responsible for the nation's public space program. NASA was established on July 29, 1958, by the National Aeronautics and Space Act.

NASA's motto is: "For the benefit of all". The motto of NASA's Office of Education is: Shaping the Future: Launching New Endeavors to Inspire the Next Generation of Explorers.

After the Soviet space program's launch of the world's first human-made satellite (Sputnik 1) on October 4, 1957, the attention of the United States turned toward its own fledgling space efforts. The U.S. Congress, alarmed by the perceived threat to U.S. security and technological leadership (known as the "Sputnik crisis"), urged immediate and swift action; President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his advisors counseled more deliberate measures. Several months of debate produced an agreement that a new federal agency was needed to conduct all non-military activity in space. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was also created at this time and many of DARPA's early space programs were soon transferred to NASA.

Explorer 1, officially Satellite 1958 Alpha, was the first Earth artificial satellite of the United States, having been launched at 10:48 pm EST on January 31, 1958. On July 29, 1958, President Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, establishing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. When it began operations on October 1, 1958, NASA consisted mainly of the four laboratories and some 80 employees of the government's 46-year-old research agency, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). A significant contributor to NASA's entry into the Space race was the technology from the German rocket program, led by Wernher von Braun, who became a naturalized citizen of the United States after World War II. He is today regarded as the father of the United States space program. Elements of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (of which von Braun's team was a part) and the Naval Research Laboratory were incorporated into NASA.

NASA's earliest programs involved research into human spaceflight and were conducted under the pressure of the competition between the U.S. and the USSR (the Space Race) that existed during the Cold War. Project Mercury, initiated in 1958, started NASA down the path of human space exploration with missions designed to discover simply if man could survive in space. Representatives from the U.S. Army (M.L. Raines, LTC, USA), Navy (P.L. Havenstein, CDR, USN) and Air Force (K.G. Lindell, COL, USAF) were selected/requested to provide assistance to the NASA Space Task Group through coordination with the existing U.S. defense research and defense contracting infrastructure, and technical assistance resulting from experimental aircraft (and the associated military test pilot pool) development in the 1950s. On May 5, 1961, astronaut Alan Shepard—one of the seven Project Mercury astronauts selected as pilot for this mission—became the first American in space when he piloted Freedom 7 on a 15-minute suborbital flight. John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth on February 20, 1962 during the 5 and a quarter-hour flight of Friendship 7.

After the Mercury project, Project Gemini was launched to conduct experiments and work out issues relating to a moon mission. The first Gemini flight with astronauts on board, Gemini 3, was flown by Gus Grissom and John Young on March 23, 1965. Nine other missions followed, showing that long-duration human space flight was possible, proving that rendezvous and docking with another vehicle in space was possible, and gathering medical data on the effects of weightlessness on human beings.

During this time NASA also began to explore the solar system with unmanned probes. As with the manned program, the Soviets had the first successes, such as the first photographs of the lunar far side, but NASA's Mariner 2 was the first space probe to visit another planet, Venus, in 1962.

The Apollo program was designed to land humans on the Moon and bring them safely back to Earth. Apollo 1 ended tragically when all the astronauts inside died due to fire in the command module during an experimental simulation. Because of this incident, there were a few unmanned tests before men boarded the spacecraft. Apollo 8 and Apollo 10 tested various components while orbiting the Moon, and returned photographs. On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11, landed the first men on the moon, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Apollo 13 did not land on the Moon due to a malfunction, but did return photographs. The six missions that landed on the Moon returned a wealth of scientific data and almost 400 kilograms of lunar samples. Experiments included soil mechanics, meteoroids, seismic, heat flow, lunar ranging, magnetic fields, and solar wind experiments.

Skylab was the first space station the United States launched into orbit. The 75 tonne station was in Earth orbit from 1973 to 1979, and was visited by crews three times, in 1973 and 1974. Skylab was originally intended to study gravitational anomalies in other solar systems, but the assignment was curtailed due to lack of funding and interest. It included a laboratory for studying the effects of microgravity, and a solar observatory. A Space Shuttle was planned to dock with and elevate Skylab to a higher safe altitude, but Skylab reentered the atmosphere and was destroyed in 1979, before the first shuttle could be launched, landing over parts of Western Australia and the Indian Ocean, with some fragments being recovered.

The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (or ASTP) was the first joint flight of the U.S. and Soviet space programs. The mission took place in July 1975. For the United States of America, it was the last Apollo flight, as well as the last manned space launch until the flight of the first Space Shuttle in April 1981.

The Space Shuttle became the major focus of NASA in the late 1970s and the 1980s. Planned to be a frequently launchable and mostly reusable vehicle, four space shuttles were built by 1985. The first to launch, Columbia, did so on April 12, 1981.

The shuttle was not all good news for NASA – flights were much more expensive than initially projected, and the public again lost interest as missions appeared to become mundane until the 1986 Challenger disaster again highlighted the risks of space flight. Work began on Space Station Freedom as a focus for the manned space program, but within NASA there was argument that these projects came at the expense of more inspiring unmanned missions such as the Voyager probes.

Nonetheless, the shuttle launched milestone projects like the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). The HST is a joint project between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), and its success has paved the way for greater collaboration between the agencies. The HST was created with a relatively small budget of $2 billion but has continued operation since 1990, delighting both scientists and the public. Some of its images, such as the groundbreaking Hubble Deep Field, have become famous.

In 1995 Russian-American interaction resumed with the Shuttle-Mir missions. Once more an American vehicle docked with a Russian craft, this time a full-fledged space station. This cooperation continues to today, with Russia and America the two biggest partners in the largest space station ever built – the International Space Station (ISS). The strength of their cooperation on this project was even more evident when NASA began relying on Russian launch vehicles to service the ISS during the two year grounding of the shuttle fleet following the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, which killed the crew of six Americans and one Israeli, caused a 29-month hiatus in space shuttle flights and triggered a serious re-examination of NASA's priorities. The U.S. government, various scientists, and the public all reconsidered the future of the space program.

Costing over $100 billion, it has been difficult at times for NASA to justify the ISS. The population at large has historically been hard to impress with details of scientific experiments in space, preferring news of grand projects to exotic locations. Even now, the ISS cannot accommodate as many scientists as planned.

During much of the 1990s, NASA was faced with shrinking annual budgets due to Congressional belt-tightening in Washington, D.C. In response, NASA's ninth administrator, Daniel Goldin, pioneered the "faster, better, cheaper" approach that enabled NASA to cut costs while still delivering a wide variety of aerospace programs (Discovery Program). That method was criticized and re-evaluated following the twin losses of Mars Climate Orbiter and Mars Polar Lander in 1999. Yet, NASA's shuttle program had made 116 successful launches as of December 2006.

It is the current space policy of the United States that NASA, "execute a sustained and affordable human and robotic program of space exploration and develop, acquire, and use civil space systems to advance fundamental scientific knowledge of our Earth system, solar system, and universe." NASA's ongoing investigations include in-depth surveys of Mars and Saturn and studies of the Earth and the Sun. Other NASA spacecraft are presently en route to Mercury and Pluto. With missions to Jupiter in planning stages, NASA's itinerary covers over half the solar system.

An improved and larger planetary rover, Mars Science Laboratory, is under construction and slated to launch in 2011, after a slight delay caused by hardware challenges, which has bumped it back from the October 2009 scheduled launch. The New Horizons mission to Pluto was launched in 2006 and will fly by Pluto in 2015. The probe received a gravity assist from Jupiter in February 2007, examining some of Jupiter's inner moons and testing on-board instruments during the fly-by. On the horizon of NASA's plans is the MAVEN spacecraft as part of the Mars Scout Program to study the atmosphere of Mars.

On January 14, 2004, ten days after the landing of the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, US President George W. Bush announced a new plan for NASA's future, dubbed the Vision for Space Exploration. According to this plan, mankind will return to the Moon by 2018, and set up outposts as a testbed and potential resource for future missions. The Space Shuttle will be retired in 2010 and Orion will replace it by 2015, capable of both docking with the International Space Station (ISS) and leaving the Earth's orbit. The future of the ISS is somewhat uncertain – construction will be completed, but beyond that is less clear. Although the plan initially met with skepticism from Congress, in late 2004 Congress agreed to provide start-up funds for the first year's worth of the new space vision.

Hoping to spur innovation from the private sector, NASA established a series of Centennial Challenges, technology prizes for non-government teams, in 2004. The Challenges include tasks that will be useful for implementing the Vision for Space Exploration, such as building more efficient astronaut gloves.

From 2002, NASA’s mission statement, used in budget and planning documents, read: “To understand and protect our home planet; to explore the universe and search for life; to inspire the next generation of explorers ... as only NASA can.” In early February 2006, the statement was altered, with the phrase “to understand and protect our home planet” deleted. Some outside observers believe the change was intended to preserve the civilian nature of the agency, while others suspected it was related to criticism of government policy on global warming by NASA scientists like James Hansen. NASA officials have denied any connection to the latter, pointing to new priorities for space exploration. The chair and ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs wrote NASA Administrator Griffin on July 31, 2006 expressing concerns about the change. NASA also canceled or delayed a number of earth science missions in 2006.

On December 4, 2006, NASA announced it was planning to build a permanent moon base. NASA Associate Administrator Scott Horowitz said the goal was to start building the moonbase by 2020, and by 2024, have a fully functional base, that would allow for crew rotations like the International Space Station. Additionally, NASA plans to collaborate and partner with other nations for this project.

NASA has had many successful space missions and programs, including over 150 manned missions. Many of the notable manned missions were from the Apollo program, a sequence of missions to the Moon which included the achievement of the first man to walk on the Moon, during Apollo 11. The Space Shuttle program has also been a success, despite the loss of two of the Space Shuttles, Challenger and Columbia which resulted in the deaths of their entire crews. The Space Shuttles were able to dock with the space station Mir while it was operational, and are now able to dock with the International Space Station – a joint project of many space agencies. NASA's future plans for space exploration are with the Project Constellation.

There have been many unmanned NASA space missions as well, including at least one that visited each of the other seven planets in our Solar System, and four missions (Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, Voyager 1, and Voyager 2) that have left our solar system. There has been much recent success with the missions to Mars, including the Mars Exploration Rovers, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the Phoenix Mars Lander. NASA remains the only space agency to have launched space missions to the outer solar system beyond the asteroid belt.

The Cassini probe, launched in 1997 and in orbit around Saturn since mid-2004, is investigating Saturn and its inner satellites. With over twenty years in the making, Cassini-Huygens is an example of international cooperation between JPL-NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).

Built entirely by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, NASA probes have been continually performing science at Mars since 1997, with at least two orbiters since 2001 and several Mars rovers. The orbiting Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will continue monitoring the geology and climate of the Red Planet, as well as searching for evidence of past or present water and life, as they have since 2001 and 2006, respectively. If the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft's nine-year lifetime is typical, these probes will continue to advance our knowledge for years to come. The Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity have been traversing the surface of Mars at Gusev crater and Meridiani Planum since early 2004, and will continue to image and investigate those environments. They have both already operated over seventeen times longer than expected, and remain a promising part of NASA's future. Adding to this flotilla is the Phoenix Mars Lander, which executed a perfect powered touchdown in the northern latitudes of Mars on May 25, 2008 after a 10-month journey of more than 420 million miles.

With the creation of NASA in 1958, the NACA was abolished, and its research centers-- Ames Research Center, Lewis Research Center, and Langley Aeronautical Laboratory--were incorporated within the new space and aeronautics agency along with some elements of the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy. In 1967, Congress directed NASA to form an Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) to advise the NASA Administrator on safety issues and hazards in NASA's aerospace programs. In addition, there were the Space Program Advisory Council and the Research and Technology Advisory Council.

In 1977, these were all combined to form the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) which is the successor to the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.

The Administrator of NASA is the highest-ranking official of that organization and serves as the senior space science adviser to the President of the United States. The position of Administrator is currently vacant, as former NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin, whose term started on April 14, 2005, resigned effective January 20, 2009. Associate Administrator Christopher Scolese has been named NASA's Acting Administrator pending a permanent appointment by the President of the United States and successful confirmation by the United States Senate.

The position of Deputy Administrator of NASA is also currently vacant. Shana Dale, who started her term on November 4, 2005, resigned her office effective January 17, 2009. This position will remain vacant until the President of the United States appoints a replacement, and the United States Senate confirms the appointment.

NASA's headquarters is located in Washington, D.C.

NASA's Shared Services center is located on the grounds of the John C. Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Construction of their facility began in August 2006 and it was completed in June 2008.

NASA has field and research installations listed below by application. Some facilities serve more than one application due to historical or administrative reasons.

The second highest NASA award is the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, which may be presented to any member of the federal government, including both military astronauts and civilian employees. It is an annual award, given out at the National Aeronautics Space Foundation plant, located in Orlando, Florida.

In the middle of the 20th century NASA augmented its mission of Earth’s observation and redirected it toward environmental quality. The result was the launch of Earth Observing System (EOS) in 1980s, which was able to monitor one of the global environmental problems – ozone depletion. The first comprehensive worldwide measurements were obtained in 1978 with the Nimbus-7 satellite and NASA scientists at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

In one of the nation's largest restoration projects NASA technology helps state and federal government reclaim 15,100 acres (61 km2) of salt evaporation ponds in South San Francisco Bay. Satellite sensors are used by a group of scientist to study the effect of salt evaporation on local ecology.

NASA has started Energy Efficiency and Water Conservation Program as an agency-wide program directed to prevent pollution and reduce energy and water utilization. It helps to ensure that NASA meets its federal stewardship responsibilities for the environment.

NASA is working in cooperation with National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The goal is to obtain to produce worldwide solar resource maps with great local detail. NASA was also one of the main participants in the evaluation innovative technologies for the clean up of the sources for dense non-aqueous phase liquids (DNAPLs). On April 6, 1999, the agency signed The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) along with the United States Environmental Protection Agency‎, DOE, and USAF authorizing all the above organizations to conduct necessary tests at the John F. Kennedy Space center. The main purpose was to evaluate two innovative in-situ remediation technologies, thermal removal and oxidation destruction of DNAPLs. National Space Agency made a partnership with Military Services and Defense Contract Management Agency named the “Joint Group on Pollution Prevention”. The group is working on reduction or elimination of hazardous materials or processes.

On May 8, 2003, Environmental Protection Agency recognized NASA as the first federal agency to directly use landfill gas to produce energy at one of its facilities - the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.

Currently, the International Space Station (ISS) relies on the Shuttle fleet for all major construction shipments. The Shuttle fleet lost two spacecraft and fourteen astronauts in two disasters: Challenger in 1986, and Columbia in 2003. While the 1986 loss was mitigated by building the Space Shuttle Endeavour from replacement parts, NASA has no plans to build another shuttle to replace the second loss, and instead will be transitioning to a new spacecraft called Orion.

The ISS was envisioned to eventually have a crew of seven, but following the Columbia Shuttle accident, the permanent space station crew of three was reduced to two, comprising one Russian and one American for six months at a time. The result was that European and Japanese astronauts could not stay for longer missions. As of 2006, the station has been restored to a crew of three, and plans call for an increase to six in 2009, during Expedition 19.

Other nations that have invested in the space station's construction, such as the members of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), have expressed concern over the completion of the ISS. The schedule NASA planned does have flexibility in it, and Associate Administrator for Space Operations William H. Gerstenmaier explained that the shuttle had completed three missions within six months in 2007, showing that NASA can still meet the deadlines necessary for the critical flights remaining.

Following the arrest of Lisa Nowak in February 2007, NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin commissioned an independent panel, the NASA Astronaut Health Care System Review Committee, to examine how well NASA attended to the mental health of its astronauts. The initial report released by the panel raised questions in regards to possible alcohol use prior to flight. However, the report offered no specifics, no facts to substantiate the claims, and stated that no attempt to confirm or investigate the allegations had been performed.

Shuttle commander Scott J. Kelly was vocal in his criticism of the report during interviews prior to STS-118, stating that it was beyond his comprehension that astronauts would ever consider what was suggested. Following the release of the independent panel report, NASA ordered an internal review, The Space Flight Safety Review.

In response to the internal review, policies at NASA would be changed in a variety of ways: Flight surgeons would be present during the pre-mission suit-up activities, flight surgeons would receive additional training in psychiatric evaluation, and although there was an unofficial code of conduct in place, an official "Code of Conduct" would be written up for employees.

Alan Stern, NASA's "hard-charging" and "reform-minded" Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, resigned on March 25, 2008, to be effective April 11, after he allegedly ordered funding cuts to the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) and Mars Odyssey that were overturned by NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin. The cuts were intended to offset cost overruns for the Mars Science Laboratory. Stern has stated that he "did not quit over MER" and that he "wasn’t the person who tried to cut MER". Stern, who served for nearly a year and has been credited with making "significant changes that have helped restore the importance of science in NASA’s mission.", says he left to avoid cutting healthy programs and basic research in favor of politically sensitive projects. Griffin favors cutting "less popular parts" of the budget, including basic research, and Stern's refusal to do so led to his resignation.

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Charles Elachi

Dr. Charles Elachi

Charles Asshur Al-Wadad Elachi (Arabic: شارل عشي‎, born April 18, 1947 in Lebanon) is the Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), located in Pasadena, California. He has held this position since May 1, 2001 and also holds professorships in electrical engineering and planetary science at Caltech.

Elachi is the director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and vice president of the California Institute of Technology. Elachi received a bachelor's degree (1968) in physics from University of Grenoble, France; the Diplome d'Ingenieur (1968) in engineering from the Polytechnic Institute, Grenoble; and a master's degree (1969) and doctorate (1971) in electrical sciences from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. He also has a master's degree (1983) in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and an MBA (1979) from the University of Southern California. He joined JPL in 1970. He is professor of electrical engineering and planetary science at Caltech.

Elachi has been a principal investigator on a number of research and development studies and flight projects sponsored by NASA. These include the Shuttle Imaging Radar series (science team leader), the Magellan imaging radar at Venus (team member), and the Cassini Titan radar (team leader). He is author of more than 230 publications in the fields of active microwave remote sensing and electromagnetic theory, and holds several patents in those fields. He taught the physics of remote sensing at Caltech from 1982 to 2001.

As JPL's director for space and Earth science programs from 1982 to 2000, he was responsible for the development of numerous flight missions and instruments for Earth observation, planetary exploration, and astrophysics.

In 1988, the Los Angeles Times selected him as one of “Southern California's rising stars who will make a difference in L.A.” In 1989, asteroid 1982 SU was renamed 4116 Elachi in recognition of his contribution to planetary exploration.

In 1989, Elachi was elected to the National Academy of Engineering and has served on a number of academy committees.

He has chaired a number of strategic planning committees for NASA. He has lectured in more than 20 countries about space exploration and Earth observation. He participated in a number of archeological expeditions in Egypt, Oman and China.

His numerous awards have included being honored as one of "America's Best Leaders" by U.S. News & World Report (2006), in collaboration with the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, the Royal Society of London's Massey Award (2006), Lebanon's Order of Cedars (2006), the American Task Force for Lebanon's Philip Habib Award for Distinguished Public Service (2006), the American Astronautical Society's Space Flight Award (2005), the National Defense Industrial Association's Bob Hope Distinguished Citizen Award (2005), NASA Exceptional Service Medal (2005), NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal (2004, 2002, 1994), NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal (1982), NASA Distinguished Service Medal (1999), the Takeda Award (2002), the Wernher von Braun Award (2002), Dryden Award (2000), the Committee on Space Research's Nordberg Medal (1996), the Nevada Medal (1995), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' Medal of Engineering Excellence (1992) and Geoscience and Remote Sensing Distinguished Achievement Award (1987), the W. T. Pecora Award (1985), and the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing's Autometric Award (1980 and 1982). He is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the International Academy of Astronautics.

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